Parents usually aren't able to tell if they've been blessed with an IQ genius or child prodigy for a kid. What are some ways to find out if yours is an extraordinary child and once you know, what do you do? Here are a few guidelines on how to pin-point certain gifts and abilities in your child and how to help him develop further at the right pace.
It is far from unusual for parents to think their little genius is really just that--a genius. That’s great, except in the majority of cases, it is simply not true. More often than not, while some toddlers do develop certain skills earlier than others, most toddlers are sweet, precious, unique individuals with normal IQs.
Take it from those who know
My second oldest (my first girl) knew all her colors, numbers and letters and was completely potty trained (her idea) before she was two. She had the vocabulary of a six or seven year old. People asked us all the time if she was gifted. Quite honestly, we did not even think about it.
To us she was just our funny, precarious little Boo. As time went on, she continued to be articulate and bright, but had to work harder to maintain some of her grades than her older brother who (other than walking early) was just as sweet and enjoyable, but developed ‘normally’ – D.N.
My husband and I went through hell to become parents. I guess it was only natural for us to be so sure Zach was a gifted child.
Everything he did was wonderful, amazing and media-alert worthy in our minds. But he’s completely normal--he even has a lisp. No, he’s not gifted but he sure is the best gift I’ve ever been given. – R.H.
Lottie was as normal as any kid until it came to skating. By the time she was four she was gliding across the ice as if that was what she was born to do.
As a parent you can’t ignore that kind of talent. No, she never competed on the world level, but she’s got a passion and a gift and I’m thankful we didn’t squelch that. – M.R.
Signs of a gifted child
All of us have something we excel at, but if your toddler displays more than two or three of these traits, you may have a gifted child:
- Language development far ahead of others their age
- Ability to recall what has seen and heard easily
- Reaches basic developmental milestones far ahead of others their age
- Expresses intense interest and ability in a given area (music, art, science, a sport)
- Very active, but not hyperactive
- Attention span far longer than others their age
- Curious, inquisitive and catches on quickly and easily
Encourage, discourage or ignore
Being the parent of a gifted child is not as easy as you might think. Having a child with this type of special needs comes with its own set of stresses. If your toddler is gifted, you run the risk of pushing rather than encouraging.
You may end up making their gift your passion when it’s clearly not theirs. Parents of gifted children also have to work hard to maintain an age-appropriate balance for their social life and other areas of development.
You don’t want your toddler to feel so different that they feel like they have no place among their peers.
On the other hand, if you ignore or discourage the obvious, you could cause them to be frustrated, anxious and depressed.
They may start to feel there is something wrong with the way they are and become withdrawn and suffer from poor self-esteem.
Your best move
The best thing parents can do for toddlers who display signs of giftedness is to encourage their curiosity, provide them with opportunities to learn and to express their talents and feelings.
It is also wise to seek professional advice from your pediatrician who can do an assessment and help you find a place to aid with your child’s learning and development.
These resources include the Gifted Academy in Singapore and the 'Gifted Programme' through the Singapore Education Department.