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100 Hints That Your Child May Be Gifted

100 hints that your child may be gifted

Admit it, you’ve thought about it. You see your precious little one handling blocks with expert dexterity. Your heart swells as they garble through their ABCs. Your pride and joy is walking already or handles math problems with ease and you wonder, Could my child be gifted?


There is a growing community of support for gifted children, but still a lot of murky information about how to actually tell if your child is gifted. ~Raising Lifelong Learners #gifted

There is a growing community of support for the families of gifted children, but still a lot of murky information about how to actually tell if your child is gifted. I remember when my oldest was still a toddler, I was reading a popular parenting magazine and came across a one-page article discussing giftedness in children. Intrigued and convinced that my precious firstborn was obviously a genius, I began comparing him to the checklist they provided… and promptly discovered that he didn’t match a single criteria. Oh well, I thought. I wouldn’t know what to do with a genius. He’s fine how he is.

Years later, surprise! Not only is he gifted, but so is his brother… and his sister. It took a teacher telling us that they were likely gifted – and multiple test results – to convince me. As we began to learn more about what it meant to be gifted, hindsight became more and more clear. The signs were always there, I’d just been wholly misinformed as to what they were!

100 Hints That Your Child May Be Gifted

Here you’ll find 100 real-life and classic hints that your child may be gifted. Since gifted kids are as unique from one another as they are from the general population, not every one of these will be true for every gifted child, and there will definitely be anecdotes experienced by gifted families that aren’t mentioned here. But in general, you may very well have a gifted child on your hands if:

  1. The word “intensity” drums up your child’s image. Intensity is the hallmark of gifted children. Intense feelings, intense reactions, intense drive. Intensity is the word when it comes to gifted kids.

  2. Your child learned to read at an early age, or

  3. they taught themselves how to read.

  4. The questions never, ever stop.

  5. She often seems wise beyond her years, but

  6. sometimes she can seem to behave younger than her actual age, especially when it comes to social and emotional issues.

  7. He experiences fears that children his age don’t.

  8. They are aware of their own mortality.

  9. He sleeps less than other children. Less than the parenting articles say he needs. Less than you need to maintain your sanity.

  10. He takes hours to fall asleep – often because he can’t “turn his brain off”.

  11. She can draw inferences from data, evidence, or Sesame Street.

  12. She can grasp metaphors at a young age.

  13. He can understand and appreciate sarcasm.

  14. He is sarcastic.

  15. She isn’t content to simply absorb information and often asks “why?” what she’s learning is important

  16. They experience anxiety.

  17. He is able to grasp concepts quickly.

  18. She is observant.

  19. He has a large, diverse vocabulary.

  20. She does well in math and can easily apply mathematical concepts to new challenges.

  21. He can’t learn enough. His desire to investigate and ask questions and immerse himself in a subject is insatiable.

  22. She has a rich, vivid, active imagination.

  23. They make up their own elaborate rules to games… or even make up their own elaborate games.

  24. He has a strong sense of justice and becomes particularly upset when faced with inequality.

  25. She can pay attention for long periods of time, especially when compared to her age peers.

  26. He has an excellent memory and can recall facts and information accurately.

  27. Others commented on what an alert infant she was.

  28. He has an intense curiosity about just about everything.

  29. They experience intense reactions to pain.

  30. He corrects others, sometimes rudely, and is usually right.

  31. She has an increased sensitivity to sensory stimuli – noises are louder, smells are more offensive, sock seams are evil.

  32. He can retain information, not just sit through it.

  33. She experiences intense empathy for others in pain or peril.

  34. He thinks so far outside the box that sometimes the box is no longer visible.

  35. They offer creative solutions to basic – or complex – problems.

  36. She often has great insight into situations.

  37. He forms strong attachments – to people, to stuffed animals, to trains, to shoes, to a favorite toothbrush, to anything.

  38. She is able to identify connections between information, facts, and people.

  39. He’s just so original. Your kiddo is quirky and awesome and there doesn’t seem to be anyone like him.

  40. She requires fewer repetitions to master a new skill.

  41. They have passionate interest in (sometimes unusual) topics

  42. He can be pretty argumentative. Any disagreement is apparently an invitation to debate, and

  43. He oftentimes win those debates (whether you tell him or not is up to you!).

  44. She becomes frustrated with repetition and review. Spiral instruction is not for her.

  45. He lacks patience or understanding when others struggle with a task he’s mastered.

  46. She frequently finds school boring.

  47. They have very high standards for everyone around them, but they are often highest when it comes to what they expect from themselves. This often leads to

  48. Struggles with perfectionism.

  49. She daydreams.

  50. He craves and appreciates novelty.

  51. She has a deep self-awareness – though may lack the ability or language to actually identify and describe her inner experiences.

  52. He has an interest in politics and enjoys discussing the latest issues.

  53. They often speak quickly. Their little mouths sometimes can’t keep up with their excitement and ideas.

  54. He’s the classic absent-minded professor – brilliant and disorganized, smart but scattered.

  55. They have a parent or sibling who has been identified as gifted.

  56. She could carry out multi-step instructions from an early age.

  57. He’s very picky – food, textures, smells, oh my!

  58. She asks deep questions.

  59. He has little need for instruction and can often master skills on his own.

  60. She frequently seeks out older children or adults for conversation.

  61. He might have excessive energy, almost like he’s driven by a motor inside.

  62. She’s skeptical, sometimes cynical.

  63. They work well independently and

  64. May even prefer to work independently.

  65. She’s so creative.

  66. He’s aware of how different he is from the kids his own age.

  67. So. Much. Talking.

  68. He expressed an early interest and/or understanding of time.

  69. Her development is asynchronous.

  70. He spoke early… and well.

  71. She exhibited early mastery of motor skill functions.

  72. They hit several developmental milestones early.

  73. She has a deep need to learn, create, go, do…

  74. He has a laser-like focus and

  75. He’s able to multitask successfully.

  76. She has a great sense of humor.

  77. He appreciates puns and dad jokes, long before becoming an actual dad.

  78. She’s able to recognize problems and

  79. She’s able to propose solutions.

  80. “Why?”

  81. They have a wide knowledge base that comes from interests in multiple areas.

  82. He’s able to understand cause and effect relationships.

  83. She can imagine multiple outcomes to situations, which often causes her to

  84. Overthink instructions. In fact, she probably

  85. Overthinks everything.

  86. He can apply new concepts to multiple areas.

  87. She struggles socially, often because of the differences between her and her peers.

  88. He creates his own ways to solve math problems.

  89. They exhibited early pattern recognition.

  90. She’s often a square peg in a round hole world.

  91. He has a strong fear of or preoccupation with death.

  92. She is highly critical of herself.

  93. He doesn’t just get interested in a topic, he obsesses.

  94. They unknowingly dominate their peers.

  95. Their standards and expressive skills often push them towards natural leadership.

  96. She deeply experiences her surroundings.

  97. He doesn’t blindly accept unproven authority.

  98. What’s normal for her sounds like you’re bragging to others.

  99. He has a low threshold for frustration.

  100. She thrives on complexity.

Related: If He’s REALLY So Smart… When Gifted Kids Struggle

100 hints your child may be gifted


Is My Child Really Gifted If They Are Struggling In School?

You may notice that among the 100 traits listed above, not once were grades mentioned as an indicator of giftedness. Being a gifted child is not all about straight-A’s and perfect test scores, it’s a neurological difference that affects many, many areas of their lives and really turns up the intensity knob.

Sure, many gifted kids have impressive report cards, but they also have struggles, fears, and unique experiences that set them apart from the crowd.

No question, It is a unique set of complex circumstances that creates a unique family dynamic and educational challenges. 

But please know, you are not alone in it. 

Are You Homeschooling A Gifted Child?

The Learner's Lab

The Learner’s Lab is the community created just for your quirky family.  It’s full of creative lessons, problem solving activities, critical and divergent thinking games, and the social-emotional support differently-wired children and teens need most.

All from the comfort of your own home. 

This community was created to support children who are gifted and twice exceptional. We address topics just like this all year long, in a way that is educational and fun for children. They learn skills to help them cope and you learn how to help them along the way. 

We invite you to join us. Get all the details HERE.

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RLL #106: [Audioblog] Young Gifted Children | Reflections from Parents

rll 106 audioblog young gifted children reflections from parents

Did you just know that your child was gifted from the start? You know, that feeling down deep in your gut that something was different about your tiny tot, but you weren’t able to completely pinpoint it?  Or maybe you went straight to a search engine with questions like, “signs my baby is gifted” or “What age can you tell if your child is gifted?”

Research shows that parents are pretty accurate when identifying their young children as gifted.  Whether early talking or walking, having extreme abilities of observation or learning, or even needing little sleep, a lot of our quirky kids start demonstrating unusually advanced behaviors from a very young age!

Today’s episode is an audioblog of a post that first appeared on the website, where Colleen asked parents to think back to when their young children were infants or toddlers. The responses were fascinating! Listen as parents share in their own words what traits and characteristics they could see now, in hindsight, that made them realize their child was gifted.  

RLL #106: [Audioblog] Young Gifted Children | Reflections from Parents

Links and Resources from Today’s Show:


Leave a Rating or Review

Doing so helps me get the word out about the podcast. iTunes bases their search results on positive ratings, so it really does help — and it’s easy!

    • Click THIS link to go to the podcast main page.
    • Click on View in iTunes under the podcast cover artwork.
    • Once your iTunes has launched and you are on the podcast page, click on Ratings and Review under the podcast name. There you can leave either or both! Thanks so much.

Want to record your own question, comment, or have your kids tell us what they LOVE to learn about? Click below and start recording!


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RLL #105: Parenting ADHD and Autism with Penny Williams

rll 105 parenting adhd and autism with penny williams

Parenting our neurodiverse kiddos, whether gifted or twice-exceptional kiddos (including autistic and ADHD), is just plain different. Typical parenting books and practices won’t always work when we’re trying to find ways to help our children become the very best people they can be. Parenting them takes intentionality and a different kind of parenting mindset.

Today, Colleen speaks with Penny Williams of Parenting ADHD and Autism about how we really need to be okay with who our neurodiverse kiddos are and learn how to celebrate their differences.  This is a terrific conversation to glean wisdom from two parents who have faced struggles that are common in parenting atypical kids.

RLL #105: Parenting ADHD and Autism with Penny Williams

Links and Resources from Today’s Show:


Leave a Rating or Review

Doing so helps me get the word out about the podcast. iTunes bases their search results on positive ratings, so it really does help — and it’s easy!

    • Click THIS link to go to the podcast main page.
    • Click on View in iTunes under the podcast cover artwork.
    • Once your iTunes has launched and you are on the podcast page, click on Ratings and Review under the podcast name. There you can leave either or both! Thanks so much.

Want to record your own question, comment, or have your kids tell us what they LOVE to learn about? Click below and start recording!


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RLL #104: A Conversation About Mindset with Shawna Wingert

rll 104 a conversation about mindset with shawna wingert


Mindset is generally thought to be the attitudes or habits of an individual’s mind that is formed by previous experience. These attitudes can predetermine a person’s response or interpretation to any given situation. Our quirky kiddos are not immune to “fixed” mindsets, and it can sometimes be a real challenge to help them to see things in a different way or try a new approach to something that has them stumped.

Today, Colleen and Shawna Wingert have a conversation about mindset, specifically to help families like ours move away from rigid and inflexible thinking. They also discuss the incredible resources inside the RLL membership community, The Learner’s Lab, and how families can work on social/emotional needs like mindset through the fun lessons and activities for kiddos, the parent master classes and the monthly online teen chats.

RLL #104: A Conversation on Mindset with Shawna Wingert

Links and Resources from Today’s Show:


Leave a Rating or Review

Doing so helps me get the word out about the podcast. iTunes bases their search results on positive ratings, so it really does help — and it’s easy!

    • Click THIS link to go to the podcast main page.
    • Click on View in iTunes under the podcast cover artwork.
    • Once your iTunes has launched and you are on the podcast page, click on Ratings and Review under the podcast name. There you can leave either or both! Thanks so much.

Want to record your own question, comment, or have your kids tell us what they LOVE to learn about? Click below and start recording!


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100 Quirks of Famous Gifted People (That Will Make You Feel Better About Your Own Quirky Kid)

100 quirks of famous gifted people that will make you feel better about your own quirky kid

If my son had a theme song, it would sound like nervous laughter. People often aren’t sure what to make of him.

Is he being sarcastic?

Is he being rude?

Does he even know what he’s saying?

Are those… dead bugs he’s displaying?

Hasn’t he worn that hoodie every day this week?

What’s with the stuffed monkey — isn’t he supposed to be some kind of genius?

Yes. To all of it.

My profoundly gifted son is full of quirks, preferences, and aversions. Some of them are funny. Many of them are frustrating. But all of them make up who he is and serve as reminders that he’s just… different.

For those times you need a reminder that different is their norm, here are 100 quirks of gifted people throughout history! #gifted ~Raising Life Long Learners

I’ve written before about how gifted kids aren’t always the stereotypical nerds you might imagine, or are used to seeing portrayed on tv. They’re just kids, really, whose brains happen to work differently, and who are just trying to go about living their life as normally as they can.

But their normal isn’t always society’s normal, and as much as I emphasize that they’re not caricatures, they still don’t really… blend in.

Gifted kids – gifted people – are full of quirks. Sometimes they’re due to sensory issues, sometimes overexcitabilities, maybe asynchronous development, or just plain odd interests or hobbies. Whether we embrace them or try to hide them, these quirks are not only hallmarks of giftedness, they’re part of what makes our kiddos just so endearing (and sometimes difficult). Annoying, adorable, or enervating, for better or worse, these kiddos are just plain different

Related: 100 Hints That Your Child May Be Gifted , Survival Mode for Parents of Quirky Kids 100 quirks of famous gifted people

For those times you need a reminder that different is their norm – or maybe just need to know that your kiddo isn’t the oddest one out there – here are 100 quirks and eccentricities of gifted people throughout history!

  1. Let’s start with history’s most well-known quirky brain – Albert Einstein, who did not wear socks. He bragged about this and how he secretly got away with such lack of civilization, that rebel, but also decided that since his big toe always made a hole in his socks, he’d just cut out the middle man and stop wearing them altogether!
  2. Pythagoras, a famous vegetarian, hated beans so much that not only did he forbid his followers from eating them, legend says that he was killed by attackers because he refused to escape by running through a bean field.
  3. Charles Dickens always carried a comb with him and fixed his hair hundreds of times a day.
  4. Dickens also slept facing north – he was convinced this improved his creativity, and kept a compass with him to ensure he was sleeping correctly.
  5. Edgar Allen Poe, admittedly not the most conforming guy as it is, refused to write on paper and instead wrote on scrolls. Stylish.
  6. Andy Warhol kept a mummified human foot next to his bed.
  7. Benjamin Franklin talked to himself.
  8. Dr. Yoshiro Nakamatsu, the inventor of the floppy disk, CD, DVD, and digital watch, believed that staying underwater long enough to nearly reach the point of drowning would stimulate his brain.
  9. Dr. Nakamatsu also had a bathroom tiled in 24k gold, which he believed blocked out television and radio waves, and where he liked to go and think.
  10. Another believer in the power of water, Ludwig von Beethoven would pour water all over himself periodically throughout the day while he was composing.
  11. Henry Cavendish was so shy that he would communicate with his servants only through letters. If he unexpectedly ran into one, they were dismissed.
  12. Cavendish also had a second staircase built in his home to help him avoid accidental interactions with the servants.
  13. Truman Capote refused to start – or finish – a work on a Friday.
  14. Capote also never allowed three cigarettes to burn in the same ashtray.
  15. Apparently very passionate about numbers, Capote would refuse to call anyone whose phone number added up to what he considered an “unlucky number”.
  16. Mark Zuckerberg only eats meat from animals that he kills himself.
  17. Honore de Balzac, the playwright, drank up to 50 cups of coffee a day. But honestly, how unreasonable is this, really?
  18. The mysterious mathematician Paul Erdos drank excessive amounts of coffee took caffeine pills, and even the occasional amphetamines to stay awake while only sleeping 4 hours a day.  “A mathematician is a machine for turning coffee into theorems,” he once said.
  19. Nikola Tesla worked from 3 am until 11 pm. This eventually lead to a mental breakdown, but once recovered he continued with the same schedule.
  20. Leonardo DaVinci, in a similar vein, followed the Uberman sleep schedule, which meant that he took 20-minute naps every four hours.
  21. Stephen King’s pillows must all be facing a specific way before he can fall asleep.
  22. Winston Churchill’s sleep schedule was such a mess that he often held cabinet meetings while he was in his bath!
  23. Emily Bronte was an insomniac and would walk circles around her dining room table until she felt tired enough to sleep. (Are you sensing a theme with all of the sleep quirks and how difficult it is to turn those brilliant brains off?)
  24. Thomas Edison would test interviewees by offering them a bowl of soup: if they added salt to their bowl before tasting it, he believed they made too many assumptions.
  25. Mary Shelley kept a boa constrictor in her writing studio and wrapped it around her shoulders while she worked. When it began to squeeze, she allowed herself to take a break.
  26. Ezra Pound breathed through his nose until it was time to write – then he would breathe exclusively through his mouth.
  27. Leonardo da Vinci makes another appearance on this list because the left-handed dyslexic polymath wrote backwards in all of his notebooks.
  28. Salvador Dali, when asked for an autograph, would keep the pen of the fan who asked!
  29. Nikola Tesla would not touch anything round.
  30. Demosthenes, an ancient Greek statesman, rehearsed his speeches in an underground hideout for long periods of time, often with stones in his mouth, and sometimes shaving half of his head to ensure that he wouldn’t speak before an audience until he was ready.
  31. Ben Franklin would spend up to an hour, every morning, standing naked in front of his open window. He called these “air baths.”
  32. Winston Churchill also loved spending time in his birthday suit. Not only was he known to dictate letters and conduct business in his office in the nude, he met Franklin D. Roosevelt while completely in the buff!
  33. Conversely, Ulysses S. Grant bragged that no one had seen him nude since his birth, as he just preferred to remain dressed.
  34. Alexandre Dumas color-coded his writing – blue for fiction, pink for articles, and yellow for poetry.
  35. John Quincy Adams greenlit an expedition to dig into the earth and discover the mole people he believed lived beneath our surface. To his credit, he wanted to form a diplomatic relationship with them.
  36. Tesla – back again – would curl his toes 100 times every night before he fell asleep in order to boost his brain.
  37. Jane Austen was known to continue daydreaming about her characters years after a work was finished.
  38. Composer Igor Stravinksy would start each day with a 15-minute headstand. Also to boost his brain.
  39. Charlie Chaplain loved to throw custard pies and nude women. There’s no known explanation for this.
  40. Ernest Hemingway would share his daily writing goals with his six-toed cats. He refused to discuss plans with normal-toed cats, as he believed they were poor listeners.
  41. William Wadsworth, however, read his poems to his dog. If his dog got agitated or barked, Wadsworth would go back and tweak the poem.
  42. Nikola Tesla, the lovable quirk who can’t keep himself off this list, once invited Mark Twain over. Tesla had just completed his high-frequency oscillator and Twain was troubled with constipation, and Tesla was convinced that he could help if only Mark would stand on the oscillator. Funnily enough, after only 90 seconds, it worked!
  43. Marlon Brando was such a fan of flatulence that upon receiving the gift of a fart machine, he exclaimed, “I’ve found God!”
  44. Michelangelo wore his boots for such long periods of time, even wearing them to bed, that when he finally did remove them his assistant said that his skin came away with them.
  45. As you can imagine, leaving his boots on for so long meant that Michelangelo rarely bathed.
  46. He also hated speaking with people and was known to walk away mid-conversation! Although I’m sure the person he was speaking to was grateful.
  47. Beethoven was also a hygiene hater. He got so dirty that his friends would take his clothes away and wash them while he slept!
  48. Emily Dickinson was a hermit who would often only speak to guests through a locked door.
  49. Lady Gaga is so afraid of ghosts that she spends thousands of dollars on paranormal investigators and ghost-hunting equipment.
  50. Marjori Desai, the first Prime Minister of India’s non-Congress government, drank his own urine. Every day.
  51. Ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes would defecate in public.
  52. William Faulkner preferred to type with his toes – and kept shoes on his hands while he worked!
  53. Sir George Sitwell had a sign upon entering his estate that read, “I must ask that anyone entering the house never to contradict me or differ from me in any way, as it interferes with the functioning of my gastric juices and prevents my sleeping at night.” I may actually try this one.
  54. Franz Kafka ate a pineapple upside down cake anytime he finished a story – and wouldn’t share a bite with anyone.
  55. Tesla makes the list again for his obsession with pigeons. Towards the end of his life he lived in almost total isolation… apart from the pigeons he would cover himself with.
  56. Alexander Graham Bell kept his windows covered at all times. He wanted to protect himself from the harmful rays… of the moon.
  57. Quentin Tarantino writes screenplays with mostly felt-tip pens, but will make the occasional exception for his ex-girlfriend’s 1980’s word processor. Vintage.
  58. James Joyce kept a pair of doll underwear in his pocket.
  59. Steve Jobs cried. A lot. Over just about anything.
  60. He also refused to put a license plate on his car.
  61. Mozart wrote graphic, expletive-filled poems to his mother – who responded in kind!
  62. Elon Musk read for up to 10 hours a day as a child. This one also seems totally acceptable.
  63. Einstein, being either thrifty or green, would pick up used cigarette butts off of the streets and use the leftover tobacco he found in them for his pipe.
  64. That’s not the only thing he picked up. Albert Einstein also picked up insects from the ground and ate them. Live.
  65. Nikola Tesla (you didn’t think we were done talking about him, did you?) was so averse to pearls that he once sent his secretary home for wearing them.
  66. Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe believed a dwarf named Jepp possessed psychic powers and would pay him to sit under his dinner table during meal times.
  67. French King Charles “The Mad” believed he was a wolf made out of glass. He not only chased people around his castle while howling at them, but he also would not allow anyone to touch him for fear of shattering.
  68. Andrew Jackson constantly challenged people to duels and is believed to have participated in hundreds of them.
  69. Martin Luther reportedly ate a spoonful of his own feces for “health benefits” from time to time.
  70. Victor Hugo would have his assistant hide his clothes in an effort to force him to meet his writing goals.
  71. Cisco Systems co-founder Sandy Lerner is such a fan of jousting that she breeds her own horses and wears Elizabethan costumes while practicing.
  72. Our friend Nikola Tesla would walk around a building 3 times before entering it.
  73. He was so obsessed with the number 3 that he also ate his meals with 6 sets of 3 napkins.
  74. Georgia O’Keefe, while surrounded by views and space on a ranch in New Mexico, preferred to paint in her car.
  75. Former emperor of China Zhengde loved playing shopkeeper so much that he had an entire fake city block built.
  76. Howard Hughes is another famous brain known for multiple quirks and mental illness. He once lived in his screening room for 4 months, surviving solely off of chocolate bars, milk, and chicken.
  77. Other times, however, Hughes would enjoy a steak meal with 12 peas of equal size. If the peas were not uniform, they were sent back to the kitchen and replaced.
  78. Lord Byron kept, ahem, hairs of his lovers in a file, which remained at his publishing house for more than 100 years after his death. Whoever kept that file should also be on this list.
  79. Less strangely, Lord Byron kept a live bear in his dorm room as a pet… and tried to get it a fellowship.
  80. Agatha Christie would write anywhere but at a desk.
  81. She also fueled her creativity by eating apples in the bathtub while examining crime scene photos.
  82. Virginia Woolf wrote standing up – though only to prove to her sister, a painter, that her work was not any easier.
  83. Sigmund Freud, while delving into the depths of the human psyche, was addicted to cocaine.
  84. When he wasn’t looking around for stuff to pick up, Einstein would play his violin for birds, while tears streamed down his face.
  85. Stephen King hates adverbs. Passionately.
  86. Andy Warhol kept more than a human foot – he was a bona fide hoarder.
  87. Pablo Picasso disliked discussing his art with fans so much that he fired a small revolver loaded with blanks whenever he found them to ask too many questions.
  88. Abstract painter Wassily Kandinsky had synesthesia and heard certain colors “hissing” at him when he tried to mix them.
  89. Leonardo da Vinci loved birds so much that he would buy them at markets just to set them free.
  90. Hans Christian Anderson carried a coil of rope with him everywhere he went, in case he was ever caught in a hotel fire.
  91. Sir Francis Galton, a prolific scientist, carried a brick with him regularly, in case he found himself in a crowd and needed something to stand on.
  92. Composer Gioachino Rossini wore a wig due to being completely bald, which seems reasonable. However when it got cold outside, he would pile them on and wear 2 or 3 wigs at once!
  93. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was convinced that Harry Houdini had actual magical powers – no matter how much Houdini himself insisted he did not.
  94. Henry Ford was pretty uninterested in food, preferring instead to gather roadside weeds to be prepared and eaten.
  95. Salvador Dali is featured again for this gem – he carried around a jewel-encrusted cigarette case filled with false mustaches, which he politely offered to his friends.
  96. German poet Friedrich Schiller could not work without the stench of rotten apples sitting on his desk.
  97. Architect Richard Buckminster Fuller worked on a scrapbook of his life for almost 7 decades until his death. If stacked, the scrapbook would be roughly the size of the Empire State Building.
  98. Steve Jobs would eat only one or two foods, such as carrots or apples, for weeks at a time.
  99. He also believed his plant-only diet negated body odor. According to his coworkers, it didn’t.
  100. Oscar Wilde is rumored to have once walked a lobster down the street. On a leash, thank goodness.

famous gifted people

Whew, there have been some brainy and bizarre people in our time! Now your kiddo’s bug collection or qualms with their food touching don’t seem quite as hard to swallow, huh?

Hopefully you got a good chuckle from this list and remember it the next time you hear the nervous laughter from a stranger. More than anything, though, I’m dying to know – what are your kiddo’s quirks?

A Perfect Option For Your Quirky Child

The Learner's Lab

The Learner’s Lab is the community created just for your quirky family.  It’s full of creative lessons, problem solving activities, critical and divergent thinking games, and the social-emotional support differently-wired children and teens need most.

All from the comfort of your own home. 

This community was created to support children who are gifted and twice exceptional. We address topics just like this all year long, in a way that is educational and fun for children. They learn skills to help them cope and you learn how to help them along the way. 

We invite you to join us. Get all the details HERE.

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RLL #102: A Conversation about Connection with Shawna Wingert

rll 102 a conversation about connection with shawna wingert

Today, we begin featuring a new type of podcast episode at Raising Lifelong Learners with Colleen Kessler, what we’re calling “A Conversation About.”  Colleen will be meeting with Shawna Wingert of Different By Design Learning at least monthly to discuss topics, common struggles and questions that come up often with our quirky and “outside-the-box” kiddos and families.  This week’s conversation centers around connection: how important it is to foster connection with your kids, encourage the relationships between siblings, and build a culture of connection as a family and as part of your community.

RLL #102: A Conversation about Connection with Shawna Wingert

Links and Resources from Today’s Show:


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Doing so helps me get the word out about the podcast. iTunes bases their search results on positive ratings, so it really does help — and it’s easy!

    • Click THIS link to go to the podcast main page.
    • Click on View in iTunes under the podcast cover artwork.
    • Once your iTunes has launched and you are on the podcast page, click on Ratings and Review under the podcast name. There you can leave either or both! Thanks so much.

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Overexcitabilities and Why They Matter for Gifted Kids

overexcitabilities and why they matter for gifted kids

The mornings we need to be out of the house at a certain time look something like this – a child is complaining about the seams in his socks, while another is having an animated sing along with her stuffed animals, completely oblivious to the fact that she has her shirt on backwards and her shoes on the wrong feet. Another is anxious, and trying to make sure everyone has what they need to get out the door so she doesn’t have to walk into her class late and upset her co-op teacher.

Can you relate?

Overexcitabilities and Why They Matter for Gifted Kids

Our family is full of what Polish psychologist/psychiatrist Kazimierz Dabrowski called overexcitabilities. As I’ve written before, gifted children are highly likely to be more intense than their typical peers. This increased awareness, sensitivity, and intensity can present challenges that make them difficult children to parent.

One of the most difficult challenges to overcome, though, is the belief that Dabrowski’s five overexcitabilities need to be cured. Experiencing the world with such intensity can be very frustrating for a child {and a parent}, but it can also be very rewarding. They can lead to great successes, innovations, and wonderful creativity.

The positive aspects of overexcitabilities need to be celebrated. The frustrations and negative aspects need to be channeled into positive path to help gifted and intense kids grown into and reach their potentials.

What are the five overexcitabilities?

Dabrowski identified five different areas of overexcitabilities when he developed his Theory of Positive Disintegration. Not all gifted kids exhibit overexcitabilities, but they are more prevalent among the gifted population than any other. Gifted children {and adults} may possess one or more of these, and according to Dabrowski, those who exhibit more than one see reality differently. They tend to experience the world in a stronger and more multi-faceted way than others.

The five overexcitabilities, as defined by Dabrowski, are psychomotor, sensual, emotional, intellectual, and imaginational. I describe each below, but will spend time examining them each in-depth with suggestions for helping your little one make the most of those characteristics they possess in individual posts. They are linked below.

Overexcitabilities and Why They Matter for Gifted Kids


This is marked by a constant need to move and expend intense physical energy. Kids with psychomotor overexcitability have drive, they are impulsive, and often show a physical manifestation of their emotions. They may have nervous habits or tics, and may have trouble sleeping.


Does your little one need every tag cut out of every shirt? Those with sensual overexcitability have a heightened awareness of all five senses – sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. These kids might not be able to eat certain foods because of their texture or taste. They might need more cuddles than others, or not want to be touched at all.




Children with a high emotional overexcitability suffer from extreme emotions, anxiety, guilt, sadness, happiness, and often have difficulty adjusting to change. These kids can be prone to depression, suffer physically from their emotions {stomach aches due to anxiety}, and seek more security from their parents.


This overexcitability is characterized by activities of the mind, thought, and metacognition. It’s the most common overexcitability thought of in relation to gifted children. These children have a deep curiosity, love of problem-solving, and always seem to be thinking.


These children can let their imaginations go to amazing places – and sometimes those imaginations can get away from them, making them fear worst-case scenarios. They tend to have imaginary friends, vivid dreams, and a love of music and drama.

Overexcitabilities and Why They Matter for Gifted Kids


What can parents do about their children’s overexcitabilities?

First, you should consider each overexcitability and figure out which characteristics best fits your child. Compare your child’s behavior with the characteristics of each type of overexcitability, remembering that kids can have more than one, but one is usually more dominant. Understanding the neurology behind your child’s behavior will better equip you to understand – and help your child understand – those behaviors, helping you help them channel their overexcitabilities for good.

Are you looking forward to reading more about overexcitabilities, how to identify them in your kids, and how to help them channel those intensities for good? Make sure you take a minute to sign up for our weekly newsletter so you don’t miss a post. And, take a minute to tell me about your kiddos in the comments. What overexcitabilities do they show? How do you deal with them?

A Perfect Option For Your Gifted Child

The Learner's Lab

The Learner’s Lab is the community created just for your quirky family.  It’s full of creative lessons, problem solving activities, critical and divergent thinking games, and the social-emotional support differently-wired children and teens need most.

All from the comfort of your own home. 

This community was created to support children who are gifted and twice exceptional. We address topics just like this all year long, in a way that is educational and fun for children. They learn skills to help them copy and you learn how to help them along the way. 

We invite you to join us. Get all the details HERE.

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For more information on parenting gifted kids, check out:


Overexcitabilities and Why They Matter for Gifted Kids

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RLL #100: A Celebration of 100 Episodes!

rll 100 a celebration of 100 episodes

It hardly seems possible we could be at our 100th Episode so quickly but here we are! These last few years have been a blast and we’ve had so much fun learning about our gifted / 2e / quirky, out-of-the-box kiddos while recording these episodes. We thought it would be fun to take a look back and listen to a few snippets from our favorite conversations, talks with parents, bloggers, authors, experts, and even some of the topics big and small we face in the day-to-day. Won’t you listen with us? You might find you want to go back and listen again to a favorite episode (or listen to one you might’ve missed!)  We also hope it inspires you to look forward to all the great conversations and episodes we have planned for the coming New Year.

RLL #100: A Celebration of 100 Episodes

Links and Resources from Today’s Show:




Leave a Rating or Review

Doing so helps me get the word out about the podcast. iTunes bases their search results on positive ratings, so it really does help — and it’s easy!

    • Click THIS link to go to the podcast main page.
    • Click on View in iTunes under the podcast cover artwork.
    • Once your iTunes has launched and you are on the podcast page, click on Ratings and Review under the podcast name. There you can leave either or both! Thanks so much.

Want to record your own question, comment, or have your kids tell us what they LOVE to learn about? Click below and start recording!

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Toxic Positivity When Raising Gifted Kids

toxic positivity when raising gifted kids

If only I had a dollar for every time someone found out about my children’s giftedness and scoffed, “Wow, that must be nice.” I’d be quite the wealthy woman. Comments about how easy we must have it when raising such smart kiddos, dismissals of our struggles because our kids must have it so easy, the (false) belief that if our kids are bringing home A’s on all of their tests, there’s nothing really to worry about.

I’ll pause while all you parents of gifted kids finish laughing hysterically. 

The truth is that raising gifted kids is often an entirely different experience than sitcoms and stereotypes would have you believe. Because gifted kids are, statistically, so few and far between, parents can find themselves incredibly isolated, misunderstood, and unheard. Even when our friends and family mean well, their words can sometimes make things worse, drive the wedge deeper. We love our kiddos and are enthralled by their uniqueness and abilities, but we still feel the sting of separation when the realities of our experience are dismissed by toxic positivity. 


toxic positivity gifted kids

Toxic positivity has made the rounds of late, calling attention to the damage that can be caused by being so insistently positive that real experiences are ignored. Waving off fears or tears with the urging to only think positive thoughts, to only entertain good vibes. Entire storms are ignored while others insist you should be searching for the silver lining among the clouds. 

And while having a positive mental attitude is helpful in tackling life’s mountains and valleys, it’s not the only way to make it through. In fact, it’s a pretty ineffective toolbox that relies solely on happy thoughts to fix every problem.

I’ve written a few posts before about the difficulties of raising gifted kids, and have been accused in a handful of comments of complaining about them, some even questioning if I like my gifted kids at all. I absolutely like my kids. I love them. I’m amazed by them. They’re my favorite people and as hard as they are, I’m willing to do whatever they need to be supported and enriched. I love my gifted kids. But I will not pretend that they are always easy. 

Toxic positivity and a sometimes overly-affirming culture tell us that they’re not hard, they’re unique, that we shouldn’t be so vocal about our struggles because we’re blessed to have them at all. The outcries are so insistent that we smile and celebrate through every struggle that many are denied the therapeutic and cathartic opportunity to vent, to acknowledge the difficulty, to be reminded that they are not alone and they are not getting the whole parenting thing wrong. 

Related: 100 Things to Never Say to the Parent of a Gifted Kid, 2E Or Not 2E? That is the Question

mental health

Toxic positivity can come from teachers. I’ve had more than one educator dismiss very valid concerns because my child was doing well in their class, academically. I bring up concerns about possible ADHD and am met with enthusiastic praises about academic performance. I ask about trouble during transition times and am answered with anecdotes about. My worries about emotional intensity and regulation are waved off while prattling on about a wonderfully creative story that was written last week.

I want to know about areas I know to be very real struggles, and am instead fed more compliments, platitudes, comforts I didn’t ask for. Sure, all parents love a good report, and it never stinks to hear someone wax poetic about how wonderful my kids are. But when there are very real concerns at stake, I don’t need teachers to be positive, I need them to be realistic. 

Toxic positivity can come from family. Well-meaning grandparents who insist that Einstein didn’t talk for the first few years of his life, so we shouldn’t worry. Aunts who remark that your child couldn’t possibly be dyslexic if they’re gifted. In-laws who wave off tantrums and meltdowns as “phases”, certain that there’s no need to pursue any kind of testing or therapy because they’re sure to grow out of it. 

Toxic positivity can come from ourselves. 

When we fear that we’re betraying our motherly duties by not gushing over how brilliant our babes are. When we think that our kiddos are so smart that any obstacles that may face will be easily overcome – they’re smart enough to figure it out, after all. When we’re caught up in the romance of quirkiness and unwilling to investigate twice-exceptionalities. When we’re so in over our heads and so at odds with what we thought parenting would be like that we simply smile through it all and push ahead, hoping it’ll eventually get easier. When we tell other parents to be thankful, grateful, instead of vocal with their difficulties and doubts. 

Related: Safe Place Fatigue | The Wear and Tear of Being Your Child’s Person, Finding Community | Building a Support System Online and In Person

toxic positivity gifted kids

Toxic positivity is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, the poisonous apple that seems to healthy upon presentation but ends up causing unforeseen damage. None of us want to be Debbie Downer, and we certainly don’t want to be the Negative Nancy anytime our friends are baring their souls and sharing their struggles. But it is entirely possible to be too positive when comforting a worn and weary friend.

Encourage one another, yes. Empower one another with honestly, not ideals. But when a friend is revealing the scared and scarred parts of her heart, don’t gloss over them in an attempt to make her forget them. She’ll go to bed that night with the same fears, and one less person who she feels understands. Don’t insist that everything is okay. Don’t point out the positive to change the subject and distract from the difficult. Let struggling parents speak, and keep in mind that you don’t always have to respond. 

Having a support group in place is invaluable when dealing with the struggles of raising gifted and twice-exceptional children. The difficulties are unique and real, and sometimes we need some genuine empathy, not a pep rally. We know how awesome our kids are, they blow us away daily. But we also know how different they are and how often those differences translate into difficulties. And sometimes, just sometimes, we need to be heard – not encouraged, not glossed over, not scolded for leaving behind our happy vibes. Toxic positivity is as real as giftedness, as hard as twice-exceptionalities, and as prevalent as the spectacled math genius stereotype.

Raising these kids is hard, and pretending it’s not won’t make it any easier. But just as true is the fact that these kids bring magic, beauty, wisdom and grace into the messiness of our lives everyday.

Please hear me, the antidote to this toxic positivity is not focusing on what isn’t working. It’s acknowledging the reality and then finding the true positives. It’s not and should never be either or – good or bad, difficult or easy, gifted or not. 

As parents of gifted kiddos, our lives are a beautiful blend of all of the above. 

toxic positivity gifted kids

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Great Gifts for Children with Anxiety

great gifts for children with

All children combat anxiety from time to time. Watching a scary movie, overhearing a frightening news segment, or hearing a ghost story from a friend. The shadows in our basement used to freak me out when I was a kid and I could feel the fear rise up in my throat when I had to go down into the laundry room alone. This kind of childhood anxiety is normal.

Do you have children with anxiety? I do, and like to plan gift-giving to support each of their needs and wants. Here are some things that have worked... #Anxiety #parenting #giftguide

But, if you’re a parent of children with anxiety – true anxiety that affects every aspect of their life – you know that it’s a struggle. I had one of my kiddos come out the other night as I stayed up late working. She just needed to make sure I was still home. She’d woken from a dream, and remembered that she’d missed me the last time I went away for the weekend, and she was scared.

Because I have cognitively gifted, asynchronous, and creative children, two of whom struggle with twice-exceptionalities and overexcitabilites – anxiety being one of those 2e challenges, I try to think carefully about the gifts I give all year long.

Here are some of the best things I’ve found for children with anxiety:

Functional Gifts for Children with Anxiety

I tend to put practical, but still fun, gifts in my kids’ stockings at Christmas, and add in some functional gifts at birthdays too. These fun things will help soothe your kiddo’s anxiety, and be cool to use, too.

Functional Gifts for Children with Anxiety

I received Tangle Toys to try out with my kids and share with you. I was compensated for my time, but all opinions are mine. In fact, we’ve owned several Tangle toys throughout the years and were eager to have a few more.

Litecup – My daughter’s anxiety hits the roof around bedtime. We have a nightlight in the room, and usually my husband sits in there on the recliner catching up on email and reading until she falls asleep. But, if she wakes in the middle of the night…forget it. She gets herself all worked up because everyone’s asleep and she wanders in the dark fearing that she’s been left alone. The Litecup has saved many nocturnal meltdowns. She has water – which is occasionally all she needs to fall back asleep – and she has a nightlight that she can take with her into my room down the dark hallway. She absolutely loves it, and we plan to buy one for each of the kids.

Chewigem – I’d actually planned to stuff a few of these into each of my children’s stockings this year to have them on hand as both fidgets and something other than their clothes or fingers to chew on. We have a Raindrop Pendant, and my kids love them. Right now, I have my 6 year old using it, and plan to get a Dog Tag Pendant for our son, a Miller Heart Pendant for our daughter, and a Skull Pendant for the teething toddler who loves pirates.

Sound Machine – We have had numerous sound machines and white noise makers in our bedrooms, and the kids’ rooms, forever. And we’ve gone through a few different brands – until we bought a Marpac DOHM-DS for each bedroom. They’ve lasted through two moves, and lots of drops. Having the same sound whooshing in the background of my children’s rooms really helps soothe them at night.

Night Light – I mentioned that we keep nightlights in our kids’ rooms. We actually give them a few options. One of those is a cuddly light up stuffed animal. There are so many fun options, that it’s hard not to find one your kids will each like.

Essential Oil Diffuser – We keep an essential oil diffuser in the kids’ rooms, and bought this one for them last year because it was affordable, got good reviews, and the nightlight can be kept on all night – even after the oils are done diffusing. Our favorites to diffuse at night are lavender, cedarwood, and sometimes Roman chamomile.

Fun Gifts for Children with Anxiety

Sometimes all it takes to soothe an anxious kiddo is something that bring him comfort or is fun to play with away from, or at, home. Consider some of these suggestions…

Fun Gifts for Children with Anxiety

Weighted Blanket or Weighted Toy – My daughter loves the secure feeling she gets when she’s covered in something that has weight. Often, sensory issues go hand in hand with anxiety, and meeting those needs can calm the anxious feelings. Consider gifting a special little person with a weighted friend, sleeping blanket, or lap pad for on-the-go.

Bed Tent – We bought our two anxious kids each a super-inexpensive bed tent last year, and it was a huge hit with each of them. They have a comforting spot to go at night and hideaway when they’re feeling overwhelmed. They each have a clip-on book light inside so they can read and relax when they need to.

Hammock Swing – This is a cozy hideaway, swing, and reading nook all in one. I don’t have this one, but it’s been on our wishlist for awhile.

Pocket Friends – Both of my children with anxiety carry small toys with them everywhere they go. One of them has an Obi-Wan Kenobi action figure that stays in his pocket and comes out for adventures wherever we are. Though now he’s moving to keeping a speedcube in his pocket as it’s a great conversation sparker when he starts flying through solutions. He also loves his new shape-shifting X-Cube for the incredulous looks he gets wherever we go. My daughter loves small animals and this dimple doll. She brings them everywhere with her.

Zuru Tangle — These are the ultimate calming puzzles. They’re quiet, come in a variety of styles (classic, metallic, crazy, or sparkle), and can be connected to one another for endless fidgeting fun. The colors, texture, and shapes help relieve stress and anxiety as well as help those who need to move their bodies focus. I have a few that I’ve owned for awhile in my purse for those moments we find ourselves waiting unexpectedly, but I’m putting the new ones we received — and that you can find at Toys “R” Us or Walmart for under $5 — in each of the kids’ stocking this year.

Great Gifts for Kids with Anxiety


Books for Children with Anxiety

Books are a part of every gift-giving situation for us. Birthdays, holidays, whatever… we love sharing good books with friends and family alike.

Books to Give Children with Anxiety

What to do When You Worry Too Much – This is an interactive self-help book designed to guide 6-12 year olds and their parents through the cognitive-behavioral techniques most often used in the treatment of generalized anxiety. Engaging, encouraging, and easy to follow, this book educates, motivates, and empowers children to work towards change. It includes a note to parents by psychologist and author Dawn Huebner, PhD.

Wilma Jean the Worry Machine – This fun and humorous book addresses the problem of anxiety in a way that relates to children of all ages. It offers creative strategies for parents and teachers to use that can lessen the severity of anxiety. The goal of the book is to give children the tools needed to feel more in control of their anxiety. For those worries that are not in anyone’s control (i.e. the weather,) a worry hat is introduced. A fun read for Wilmas of all ages!

What to do When You’re Scared and Worried – From a dread of spiders to panic attacks, kids have worries and fears, just like adults. This is a book kids can turn to when they need advice, reassurance, and ideas. They’ll find out where fears and worries come from, practice Fear Chasers and Worry Erasers, and learn to seek help for hard-to-handle fears they can’t manage on their own.

The Outsmart Your Worry Tool Kit for Kids – Worry and anxiety are big problems facing children today. Kids worry about doing well in school, making friends, peer pressure, family conflicts, performance in sports, or moving. They worry about real dangers like kidnapping, illness, and terrorism, as well as imagined dangers such as monsters or the dark. The Outsmart Your Worry Tool Kit for Kids (more of a game than a book) is an innovative skill- building approach to help children take charge of worry. The Tool Kit teaches children to become stronger and smarter than their worry, think in strong and accurate ways, stop the What-Ifs, and relax their minds and bodies.


David and the Worry Beast – David could not stop thinking about the basket he had missed at the end of the big game. He was worried that he might do it again. He was worried that his team mates would be angry with him. He was worried that his parents would not be proud of him. He was also worried about an upcoming math test. In fact, David was worried a lot. “Should I quit the team?” he asked himself. “Should I be sick tomorrow and miss the math test?” Luckily, David finally confided in his parents and school nurse, both of whom gave him support and techniques for controlling the “worry beast” within him.

Worry! Worry! Go Away! – Children should not have to worry, but these Elfin characters will help your child overcome any worry that he or she is experiencing.

Nervous Nellie — What if? What if? What if? Nellie worries about everything- getting on a train, a plane, making friends in school, and more. With the help of Dr. Nofear, Nellie embarks on a journey to overcome her anxiety.

From Worrier to Warrior – There are two versions of this book: one for kids to read and one for their concerned adults. Both are fantastic, and so worth your time and money. Dr. Dan Peters gets worried kids, and knows how to help them be strong.

There are so many great resources out there to help our anxious kiddos, but we need to be mindful of their needs and give gifts that serve more than one purpose. Do you have other great gift ideas for the little worriers in your life? I’d love to hear them.

You Might Also Like:



 From Other Great Sites:

Best Gifts for the Autism Mom | This Outnumbered Mama

115+ Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Kids with Hyperlexia | And Next Comes L

Gift Giving & Autism: The One Golden Rule | My Home Truths

Self-Care Gifts for Special Needs Parents| Life Over C’s

Nutcracker Themed Gift Ideas for Kids | Every Star is Different

Gifts for Gifted Kids - Gifts for Children with Anxiety FB

Bramble Box

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