Gifted children are, by definition, “Children who give evidence of high performance capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, leadership capacity, or specific academic fields, and who require services or activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop such capabilities.”

Biological differences

There is a biological difference between the gifted child and the typical child. The gifted child seems to have an increased cell production that also increases synaptic activity. This all adds up to an increased thought process. The neurons in the brain of the gifted child seem to be bio-chemically more abundant and, as a result, the brain patterns that develop are able to process more complex thought. There seems to be more prefrontal cortex activity in the brain, which leads to insightful and intuitive thinking. Gifted children have more alpha wave activity in the brain. They not only get more alpha wave activity faster than the typical child, but they also sustain it longer. This allows for more relaxed and focused learning with greater retention and integration. The brain rhythms of the gifted child occur more often, and this allows for concentration, attention, investigation, and inquiry.

Common characteristics

There are some common characteristics the gifted child may possess. The gifted child may be:
• Self-disciplined, independent, often anti-authoritarian.
• Zany sense of humor
• Able to resist group pressure, a strategy that is developed early
• More adaptable and more adventurous
• Greater tolerance for ambiguity and discomfort
• Little tolerance for boredom
• Preference for complexity, asymmetry, open-endedness
• High in divergent thinking ability
• High in memory, good attention to detail
• Broad knowledge background
• Need think periods
• Need supportive climate, sensitive to environment
• Need recognition, opportunity to share
• High aesthetic values, good aesthetic judgement
• Freer in developing sex role integration; lack of stereotypical male/female identification.

Differences between the sexes
However, studies have shown that the characteristics of the gifted child can differ on the basis of sex.

The following are common characteristics of the female gifted child:
• She likes school, especially courses in science, music, and art.
• She likes her teachers.
• She regularly reads news, magazines, an other non-required reading.
• She is active in drama and musical productions.
• She does not go out on dates as often.
• She is a daydreamer.

The following are common characteristics of the male gifted child:
• He dislikes school.
• He dislikes teachers and thinks they are uninteresting.
• He does little homework.
• He dislikes physical education and seldom engages in team sports.
• He is regarded as radical or unconventional.
• He often wants to be a lone to pursue his own thoughts and interests.

Emotional characteristics

The gifted child also appears to have his share of emotional stresses. Interestingly enough, studies seem to indicate that the gifted child may, in fact, have lower self-esteem than the average child. There seems to be a direct correlation between the high expectations that the gifted child has for himself, and therefore, his unrealistic goals for which he strives. This situation tends to cause anxiety, as the gifted child pushes himself unrealistically.

Parenting the Gifted Child, Part 2

Now that we’ve taken a look at some common characteristics of gifted children, in my next post, I will share some insights into parenting the gifted child.

1. Growing Up Gifted, by Dr. Barbara Clark
2. Thompson, Berger, and Berry (1980)
3. Restak (1979); MacLean (1978)
4. Lozanof (1977); Martindale (1975)
5. Adolescent Study by Halpin, Payne, Ellett (1973)


  • Dr. Gail Gross

    Author and Parenting, Relationships, and Human Behavior Expert

    Dr. Gail Gross, Ph.D., Ed.D., M.Ed., a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and member of APA Division 39, is a nationally recognized family, child development, and human behavior expert, author, and educator. Her positive and integrative approach to difficult issues helps families navigate today’s complex problems. Dr. Gross is frequently called upon by national and regional media to offer her insight on topics involving family relationships, education, behavior, and development issues. A dependable authority, Dr. Gross has contributed to broadcast, print and online media including CNN, the Today Show, CNBC's The Doctors, Hollywood Reporter, FOX radio, FOX’s The O’Reilly Factor, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Times of India, People magazine, Parents magazine, Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine, USA Today, Univision, ABC, CBS, and KHOU's Great Day Houston Show. She is a veteran radio talk show host as well as the host of the nationally syndicated PBS program, “Let’s Talk.” Also, Dr. Gross has written a semi-weekly blog for The Huffington Post and has blogged at since 2013. Recently, Houston Women's Magazine named her One of Houston's Most Influential Women of 2016. Dr. Gross is a longtime leader in finding solutions to the nation’s toughest education challenges. She co-founded the first-of-its kind Cuney Home School with her husband Jenard, in partnership with Texas Southern University. The school serves as a national model for improving the academic performance of students from housing projects by engaging the parents. Dr. Gross also has a public school elementary and secondary campus in Texas that has been named for her. Additionally, she recently completed leading a landmark, year-long study in the Houston Independent School District to examine how stress-reduction affects academics, attendance, and bullying in elementary school students, and a second study on stress and its effects on learning. Such work has earned her accolades from distinguished leaders such as the Dalai Lama, who presented her with the first Spirit of Freedom award in 1998. More recently, she was honored in 2013 with the Jung Institute award. She also received the Good Heart Humanitarian Award from Jewish Women International, Perth Amboy High School Hall of Fame Award, the Great Texan of the Year Award, the Houston Best Dressed Hall of Fame Award, Trailblazer Award, Get Real New York City Convention's 2014 Blogging Award, and Woman of Influence Award. Dr. Gross’ book, The Only Way Out Is Through, is available on Amazon now and offers strategies for life’s transitions including coping with loss, drawing from dealing with the death of her own daughter. Her next book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, is also available on Amazon now and teaches parents how to enhance their child’s learning potential by understanding and recognizing their various development stages. And her first research book was published by Random House in 1987 on health and skin care titled Beautiful Skin. Dr. Gross has created 8 audio tapes on relaxation and stress reduction that can be purchased on Most recently, Dr. Gross’s book, The Only Way Out is Through, was named a Next Generation Indie Book Awards Silver Medal finalist in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the categories of Death & Dying as well as Grief. Her latest book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, was the National Parenting Product Awards winner in 2019, the Nautilus Book Awards winner in 2019, ranked the No. 1 Best New Parenting Book in 2019 and listed among the Top 10 Parenting Books to Read in 2020 by BookAuthority, as well as the Next Generation Indie Book Awards Gold Medal winner in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the category of How-To. Dr. Gross received a BS in Education and an Ed.D. (Doctorate of Education) with a specialty in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston. She earned her Master’s degree in Secondary Education with a focus on Psychology from the University of St. Thomas in Houston. Dr. Gross received her second PhD in Psychology, with a concentration in Jungian studies. Dr. Gross was the recipient of Kappa Delta Pi An International Honor Society in Education. Dr. Gross was elected member of the International English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta.