The SubUrban Mom...
A Mother's Perspective
Does your infant cry a lot and need constant interaction? Does your 6-8 month old throw fits like a toddler during "terrible twos?" If so, your seemingly "behaviorally challenged" baby just may be gifted. Many are unaware that some behavioral characteristics of giftedness in infants can be viewed as "bad". I know right! What can be "bad" about a gifted baby? Let's clarify and explore...
Most people that have experienced the company of gifted children and have felt these emotions don't typically mean "bad" in the worst meaning of the word, but more like "undesirable", or "hard to cope with." Don't believe us, well let's review some of the tendencies of gifted infants. Before we continue I want to disclose that in no way am I saying giftedness is bad. Only that others can perceive certain behaviors as "undesirable" or "hard to cope with"- If we're being honest, most of us have done it in some way or another, i.e. having seen a child behaving a certain way and say to ourselves "Not me." or "I would never let my child do that." Moving on... When it's all said and done if you or someone you know has a baby with said characteristics you may have a better understanding as to why, as well as, how to better approach them.
Additionally, there are many signs and characteristics of giftedness that occur in infants. However, for the purposes of this article, we will be focusing on the following few.
Granted the characteristics listed above may seem harmless when taken into account one at a time- however, gifted babies and children often display several characteristics of giftedness at a time. To gain a better understanding, look back at the list and group any 3 characteristics together. Now think about it-- No matter what combination of 3 you choose, you can begin to understand how a child displaying a culmination of these behaviors can come across as "bad", when the context of gifted is not present. For the sake of visualization, let's say a baby, 6 months in age, (1.) Needs less sleep than it's peers. (2.) Doesn't sit alone well/needs to be repositioned very frequently (every 10 minutes or so) (3.) Often cries more than their peers. In this example, if said needs are not met, endless crying ensues because that is how babies communicate. Can you imagine the wear on mom and dad!? 6 months in and still not getting ANY good sleep! Not only are they not getting sleep they have to engage this baby, that doesn't sit well alone and needs to be repositioned every 10 minutes during the hours the baby is awake. Now add on top of that the extra crying, above and beyond others of that age. Just thinking about it sounds rough. In the next example, we have a 12 month old that is (1.) Extra sensitive to smells (2.) Cries as an expression of dislike to any smell that's not worthy, and (3.) More active than most. Again, if needs are not met, endless crying ensues. For the purposes of playing out this scenario, let's say grandma comes over and baby doesn't like her smell, baby is likely to cry EVERY time, leaving grandma to do one of two things; start naming all the things she feels is wrong with baby or blame baby's crying on you and how you are caring for the baby. In which case, neither is a win...
Furthermore, anyone with a baby, unaware that these could be signs of giftedness could be overwhelmed and rightfully so. Often times we are led to seek advice from other parents such as, grandparents, mommy friends, siblings and so forth, all of whom may also be unaware of gifted characteristics. As a result you may give people the wrong impression about your child. A lot of responses to the characteristics above are negative and/or inappropriate for addressing a gifted baby's true needs. Parents often hear comments like "oh it sounds like the baby is really colicky", or "they're so spoiled", "you must hold them too much", or "why are they so serious all the time", or "maybe they're teething or have bad gas." Then there are those that instantly think everything is autism or some sort of disorder. And this is the start of how gifted babies and kids get a "bad" rep.
Good thing is, nowadays the term "bad" can also mean "good", for there is absolutely nothing "bad" about having a gifted little one! Sure, it is demanding! Especially, if they are expressing signs early on as a newborn or infant. Trust me, I know. The biggest difference is knowing vs. not knowing, which is why I felt the unction to write this article. Some of the most important things we can do when caring for and raising a gifted little, is to gain an understanding, pay close attention to their developmental milestones (write them down), and find different support outlets where you can share your experiences and gain from other parents sharing theirs.
In summation, if you or someone you know has a newborn or infant that is displaying some of the characteristics listed above, consider downloading and reviewing the various developmental phases and milestones, and familiarize yourself with them. Also, take notes about your little one's progress. A list briefly describing each accomplishment accompanied by their age (in months) will do. It is also important to have an understanding of the many additional signs and characteristics of giftedness that were not listed here. For more information on giftedness in infants and toddlers please see some of our previous articles and/or register with From "U" University for additional resources.
"The SubUrban Mom"
Register Today for additional FREE Resources & Learning content
Though articles are a new feature here at From "U" University, we are happy to say we will be running a short series, informally titled A Mother's Perspective. The articles will, of course, be based on early education & development, and our author's experiences, knowledge, and philosophies gained from her journey of teaching 2 gifted children from birth. The articles will focus on ages 0-3 years, and highlight cognitive learning milestones, parent teaching tips & tricks, teaching philosophies, learning resources, and more.