With each new milestone your toddler reaches, you may become more certain that she's the brightest toddler you've ever seen. Parental biases aside, you could be onto something. Although there is no single universally embraced definition of "intelligence," formal measurements, such as IQ testing, rank some children above others in their cognitive ability. However, if a child has a mediocre ability to understand concepts and solve problems, it doesn't necessarily mean that he isn't gifted in other ways. Recognizing signs of high IQ, in addition to recognizing signs of giftedness, can help you foster your toddler's individual talents.
Giftedness vs. IQ
A child may have exceptional abilities in one or many areas that can be broad, such as leadership or creative thinking, or very specific, such as an aptitude for math or science, according to the National Association for Gifted Children, or NAGC. A child's IQ isn't the same as giftedness, because the IQ test is just a way to assess or observe a child's innate abilities. In effect, a high IQ may just be one sign that the giftedness exists, says the NAGC.
IQ Testing in Young Children
Children under age 3 aren't generally given ability and IQ tests and the test results for children between ages 3 and 5 may fluctuate from test to test, according to BabyCenter.com. Additionally, IQ scores aren't as black-and-white as they used to be. In the past, children with IQ scores of over 130 were deemed gifted, whereas now IQ is just one of multiple factors that contribute to positive identification of giftedness, says BabyCenter.com. For example, a tester may also ask teachers and parents to describe their own impressions of the child.
Signs of Giftedness
Your toddler may be gifted if she: has a specific talent such as a keen artistic ability; speaks more clearly or has a larger vocabulary than children her age; reaches other developmental milestones ahead of her peers; is consistently curious and asks many questions; or has a vivid imagination and is able to memorize random facts with ease, says BabyCenter.com. She may also be unusually active and passionate about her interests, yet not hyperactive with a short attention span, says BabyCenter.com.
Emotional Signs of Giftedness
Sometimes gifted children have trouble connecting to their peers, says BabyCenter.com. Once a gifted toddler enters preschool, he may feel withdrawn or isolated if he feels as though he is different from his peers, which could lead to bullying. If your toddler is gifted, you may also notice that he is consistently frustrated due to an inability to keep up physically or verbally with his rapid thoughts, according to BabyCenter.com.
Getting a Diagnosis
Although most children don't need to be tested for giftedness before they enter elementary school, you may consider taking your child to see a mental health professional if she seems to be bored in preschool or if she struggles emotionally or socially, says BabyCenter.com. Talk to your child's teacher or pediatrician for a referral to a child psychologist who can conduct the appropriate assessments.