What is a gifted child personality?

What are the common traits of gifted children?

Gifted children often display certain personality traits and behaviors that set them apart from their peers. Some of the most common characteristics of giftedness include:

  • High intelligence and advanced cognitive abilities
  • Excellent memory and rapid learning ability
  • Exceptional creativity and imagination
  • Advanced vocabulary and highly developed verbal skills
  • Preference for older companions or solitary play
  • Intense curiosity and obsession with specific interests
  • High emotional sensitivity and perfectionism
  • Boredom with routine tasks, resistance to drill and practice
  • Questioning of rules, customs and traditions
  • High activity level, restlessness, boundless energy

Of course, not all gifted kids exhibit all these traits, and some may show them more strongly than others. But most display a mix of the intellectual, creative, developmental and emotional intensities that set them apart. Recognizing the unique personality profile of giftedness is key to providing appropriate educational support.

Do gifted children have trouble socializing?

Many gifted children have difficulty finding peers at their intellectual level and connecting socially. Common social challenges include:

  • Preference for older companions or adults who match their advanced cognition
  • Boredom with age-typical games, activities and conversations
  • Feeling misunderstood or ostracized for being “different”
  • Difficulty relating to same-age peers and their interests
  • Isolation or rejection due to academic intensity or eagerness to learn
  • Reluctance to display their full abilities to avoid standing out
  • Strong sense of justice and intolerance of rules seen as unfair
  • Bossiness, criticism or stubbornness due to perfectionism
  • Focus on their own agenda rather than cooperating with peers

While social challenges are common for gifted kids, they are certainly capable of having healthy friendships. With understanding, guidance and access to intellectual peers, gifted children can thrive socially.

Do gifted kids have more emotional and behavioral issues?

Gifted children are no more likely to have psychological or behavioral disorders than the general population. However, some unique aspects of the gifted profile can lead to certain emotional struggles or maladjustments under certain circumstances, including:

  • Perfectionism and intense self-criticism leading to inability to complete tasks or self-sabotage
  • Boredom, frustration and underachievement due to lack of challenge
  • Social isolation, confusion and low self-esteem due to feeling “different”
  • Anxiety, excessive worry and fear of failure related to perfectionism
  • Excitability, intensity, misbehavior due to hyperactivity and lack of outlet
  • Depression or hopelessness from perfectionism or undiagnosed learning disabilities
  • Acting out, power struggles or defiance if needs aren’t accommodated

With appropriate programs tailored to support their needs, gifted children can thrive emotionally. A psychologically safe environment where differences are valued helps gifted kids adjust positively.

Do gifted kids have trouble in school?

While gifted children have the potential for academic success, many struggle in traditional school settings:

  • Boredom, frustration and daydreaming due to lack of challenge
  • Underachievement or inability to live up to potential
  • Aversion to routine practice or drill; resistance to busy work
  • Trouble with open-ended assignments offering little structure
  • Reluctance to show work due to efficient thinking processes
  • Questions and debates perceived as disruptive by teachers
  • Creativity viewed as experimentation or rule-breaking
  • Misdiagnosed learning disabilities due to uneven skill development
  • Social rejection for being smart; hiding talents to fit in

Gifted kids thrive when given more options for acceleration, enrichment and independent study. Strength-based approaches focusing on higher level concepts and interdisciplinary connections better suit their learning style.

What teaching strategies work best for gifted learners?

Certain instructional strategies are particularly effective for gifted students:

  • Individualized education programs with accelerated pacing in strength areas
  • Enrichment activities that expand on regular curriculum
  • Opportunities for independent study and focused interests
  • Grouping with intellectual peers for at least part of the day
  • Differentiated instruction tailored to their level of understanding
  • Emphasis on creative problem finding and solving
  • Complex, high level tasks with opportunities for self-direction
  • Interdisciplinary instruction making cross-curricular connections
  • Exposure to topics not typically covered in regular classes
  • Freedom to learn at an accelerated pace and show mastery quickly

When instruction is aligned with their advanced learning abilities, gifted students excel academically and are more engaged and motivated learners.

Do gifted kids have special learning needs?

While very bright, gifted children have unique learning needs that require adjustments in order to thrive:

  • Accelerated pace of instruction to match rapid learning speed
  • Less repetition and practice; more complex tasks and challenges
  • Opportunities to explore passionate interests in depth
  • Flexible pacing options to move through material more quickly
  • Differentiated instruction tailored to advanced comprehension
  • Enrichment projects and supplementary materials to go deeper
  • Movement and interaction; dislike of excessive seatwork
  • Choice in ways to demonstrate mastery and show competency
  • Occasional need to work independently with less direction
  • Learning environment appreciative of intensity and excitability

While gifted kids are often very capable, they require modifications to fully develop their potential. Accommodating their needs leads to greater engagement and motivation.

Do gifted kids think and learn differently from their peers?

In many ways, gifted children have very different cognitive processes and learning styles:

  • Grasp concepts and make connections more rapidly and easily
  • Prefer inductive learning and discovery; less need for drills
  • Exceptional ability to think critically, abstractly and make inferences
  • Display incredible memory capacity, recall and retention
  • Advanced and precocious verbal ability and vocabulary
  • Seek out patterns, discrepancies and underlying principles
  • Thrive on solving meaningful, complex problems with creativity
  • Show intense focus when interested; may miss details when bored
  • Prefer visual-spatial learning; strong visualization skills
  • Have rapid “mind-skipping” thought processes that are hard to track

Gifted kids benefit from design thinking, project-based learning and opportunities to apply advanced knowledge and skills creatively. A strength-based approach allows them to maximize their potential.

What are common issues for profoundly or highly gifted kids?

Extremely gifted children at the farthest end of the bell curve face additional challenges:

  • Much greater disynchrony between their cognition and physical/social maturity
  • Extreme boredom, underachievement and frustration in mainstream settings
  • Social isolation and difficulty finding intellectual peers at their level
  • Little motivation to practice skills already mastered; resist drill
  • Weak executive functioning skills relative to intellectual gifts
  • Overexcitabilities and intense sensitivities requiring accommodation
  • Existential depression and anxiety due to advanced cognition
  • Lack of true intellectual peers; dependence on older companionship
  • Radical giftedness mistaken for autism spectrum disorder

Highly and profoundly gifted kids benefit from early entrance to college, subject acceleration, special full-time gifted programs and early access to career development opportunities tailored to their ability level.

Do gifted kids have overexcitabilities or sensitivities?

Many gifted children exhibit “overexcitabilities” – intense reactions to sensory stimuli indicating increased sensitivity:

  • Psychomotor: heightened energy, restlessness, rapid speech, zealous enthusiasm
  • Sensual: intense sensory pleasure or displeasure to sights, smells, tastes, textures, sounds
  • Intellectual: avid curiosity, recursive thinking, theoretical analysis, moral questioning
  • Imaginational: vivid imagery, fantasy, animistic thinking, creative invention
  • Emotional: strong affects, complex emotions, identification with others’ feelings

Overexcitabilities are channels through which the gifted experience the world. While intense, they indicate rich inner experiences. Understanding OEs allows parents and teachers to provide needed support.

What are common characteristics of gifted underachievers?

Gifted kids who underachieve share many traits:

  • Extreme boredom with school and assignments
  • Lack of engagement leading to low motivation
  • Weak study and organizational skills
  • Low confidence in own abilities; fear of failure
  • Negative school experiences due to gifted needs not addressed
  • Little effort applied; coasting by on natural abilities
  • Dislike of mundane drill and practice tasks
  • Rejection of arbitrary rules or authoritarian structure
  • Subjects little interest or value to them; not allowed to accelerate
  • Perfectionism; would rather not try than risk less-than-perfect result

Underachievement is often a mismatch between environment and needs. Adjusting level and pace of instruction and allowing passionate pursuit of interests can reengage gifted kids.

What are common issues seen in gifted girls?

Gifted girls face some unique challenges:

  • Downplay abilities to fit in; mask giftedness to avoid teasing
  • Underestimate own competence due to societal messages
  • Minimize hands-on science education starting at young ages
  • More perfectionistic; more likely to avoid risk of failing
  • Concentrate talents into “acceptable” verbal areas
  • Face social backlash for assertiveness or questioning norms
  • Seen as bossy or aggressive for leadership skills praised in boys
  • judged more critically for personality traits accepted in boys
  • Prone to “imposter syndrome” as adults despite accomplishments

Gifted programming emphasizing female role models in STEM, leadership development, risk-taking and hands-on learning encourages girls’ talents. Same-sex groupings reduce stereotype threat.

What are characteristics of gifted culturally diverse youth?

Gifted children from diverse backgrounds often exhibit giftedness differently from mainstream white culture:

  • Strong creative, musical, artistic, oral storytelling abilities
  • Problem-solving skills shown in informal settings rather than formal tests
  • Exceptional insight into social dynamics and ability “read” situations
  • Spatial abilities and visual-kinesthetic intelligence
  • Leadership, social charisma and ability to inspire others
  • Culturally-specific interests not captured in traditional gifted measures
  • Advanced sense of justice, equity and desire for social change
  • Reluctance to stand out from peers or excel in “white” domains
  • Critical view of biased systems and institutional racism

Gifted identification methods and programs must be adapted to recognize culturally diverse abilities. Strength-based approaches are more equitable.

What are tips for parents raising gifted children?

Some helpful strategies for parenting gifted kids include:

  • Providing constant intellectual stimulation and exploratory opportunities
  • Facilitating friendship and peer groups with other gifted children
  • Exposing them to diverse interests and experiences
  • Arranging subject acceleration or above-grade-level activities
  • Advocating for appropriate educational services and gifted programs
  • Teaching organizational skills to handle informational intensity
  • Coaching self-care skills to manage sensitivity and overexcitability
  • Promoting identity development and moral responsibility
  • Allowing creative freedom and tolerating ideas out of the mainstream
  • Understanding needs for solitude and reflection

By providing support while allowing room for autonomy, parents help gifted kids reach their potential while developing self-awareness and social skills.

What are the pros and cons of early entrance to kindergarten or first grade?

Accelerating a gifted child into school early has advantages and disadvantages:


  • Alleviates boredom from repetitious introductory content
  • Provides access to suitably challenging curriculum
  • Allows learning at an appropriate pace among intellectual peers
  • Reduces feelings of differentness from same-age classmates
  • Enables advanced educational opportunities and potential career acceleration


  • Possible maturity gap and social disconnect from older classmates
  • May still need differentiation if profoundly gifted
  • Loss of time to develop executive functioning skills
  • Mismatch with motor skills development
  • Strain on family schedule and logistics

The key is matching the level of acceleration to the child’s abilities and needs. Partial acceleration options like subject skipping or pull-out programs offer flexibility.


While presenting certain unique challenges, gifted children have amazing talents and strengths. With proper understanding of their needs, interests and abilities, parents and teachers can support gifted kids to thrive socially, emotionally and academically. Accommodating their intensity and advanced development allows their gifts to blossom. By providing an enriching and strength-based environment, we enable gifted children to reach their full potential and make meaningful contributions to society.

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