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Children's Health

3-Year-Old Gifted or ??

06/09/2010

Question:

From a very small age we noticed our son to be very intrigued by unusual things he never really played with his baby toys he was more interested in how they worked and were the sound came from and were the batteries were & what not. Today he is 3 years old can recognize all the letters in the alphabet before he could say them, when u ask him a letter he will say o for oval ect.. instead of batteries he always has called them powers and they make the power work in the item, a sound is a noise, ect.. counts to 20 once he sees something done one time he automatically always remembers it. he stashed a nuk at school in the play kitchen a week went by before he had class again first thing he did was went to that exact spot and got it he does this stuff daily. When you show him a picture of him or someone were he has been it can be a paint color on a wall from our bathroom and him in the picture and just from the color he can say oh that was landin in the bathroom or in the kitchen and so on just bye the color on the wall or a small candle or item in the picture.My husband is an engineer and Landin sits looking at dads old engineering books for hours intrigued by them saying this is how you turn this and this is how this works. He will see a movie one time and you give him the movie without the case and he can name every movie he has ever seen just by looking at the movie with the writing on it, he is also very mechanical we have to keep the tools up or he will take the screws out of the outlet covers and doors and what not. Amongst many many more amazing things he can do that we thought where ordinary we are wondering is he gifted or just way smart? everyone is always telling us how extra smart he is and our dr is amazed with him, his teacher says its like a 7 year old stuck in his body sometimes but were do we go from here as parents to help him excel and try and keep him busy? Thank You.

Answer:

He certainly is an amazing three-year-old! Here are some signs of early giftedness among 3-4-year-olds proposed by Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D, many of which your son appears to meet:
Children may and do inherit intellectual strengths from parents. The two things I would suggest that you also consider are whether or not he has strong social skills and the strength of his verbal communication skills.

It is not uncommon for children with great strengths in some areas to have significant weaknesses in others, especially speech and language as well as social skills. If these abilities are not strong, then seeking an overall detailed developmental evaluation and therapies to catch him up in social and language skills would be a super idea. This is the time when interventions work best with young children.

It is a challenge for most parents and teachers to satisfy the learning needs of gifted children. Gifted children will also find adults more interesting companions than their age mates. This can lead to other children perceiving them as teacher's pet, Mommy's boy, etc. If he is in a regular classroom, he will have the challenge of the jealousy of the other children over his smartness and bullying by others because he is different, even if it is a good difference. No matter how smart a child is, these social experiences can truly hurt.

I mention these things not to scare you, but rather to alert you to the needs to have care with his social skills, to watch for problems with peers in school, and to form strong, positive working relationships with his teachers to ensure that he is challenged and happy in school. Gifted children tend to act out when they are bored and unfulfilled in their need to learn. Being super-smart has its up and down sides.

It would likely be helpful to read books about gifted children and the strategies parents of other gifted children have used to help their wonderful children be happy and successful. Different books appeal to each parent so I suggest sitting down in a good book store and the public library and browsing through the books on giftedness to find those you personally find helpful. I also recommend going to a teacher's supply and resource store such as Lakeshore to look for activity and learning guides that will help you foster your son's learning in fun ways.

Following your son's lead in his interests is also a sound strategy at this early age. Support his learning and exploration in the things he loves and finds fascinating with lots of trips to science  and natural history museums, etc. to help you develop a feel for the breadth of his interests and abilities.

I hope this is helpful to you as you move forward in parenting your son.


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Response by:

Mary M Gottesman, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN Mary M Gottesman, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN
Professor of Clinical Nursing
College of Nursing
The Ohio State University