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Gifted Children/3 year old boy gifted, advanced, neither?


QUESTION: I have always been curious if maybe my son is advanced.  

I'll try to briefly outline the things he's done to make me wonder.

3 months:  he would respond to his name and sit every night for multiple stories

7 months:  said the word ball while playing with a ball, clapped hands, pointed, could respond to questions I would ask him.  For example:  I would hold up two objects like a book or a block and ask him which was which and he would point to the correct object.

9 months:  he began to learn colors, started to sign more

10 months:  he developed a deep love of books and would look at them on his own, turn pages and point to pictures.  He would sit for at least an hour for stories.

12-15 months: used sign language for getting basic needs met, 30 spoken words, could count to ten with me, constantly asked "that?"  while pointing.

18 months:  150 words including some two word phrases, recognized uppercase letters, colors, shapes, could do basic puzzles.

20-22 months:  he was speaking in clear short sentences.  He amazed the teachers at the mommy and me class we attended.

24 months:  11 word sentences, recognized lower case letters and sounds(probably did this earlier but I don't remember exactly when).

36 months:  counts to 100, counts by 10s, counts backwards from 10, can do small addition and subtraction in his head combinations up to 5, uses adult vocabulary words like, obviously, exactly, actually, gargantuan etc., makes connections to things for example after he learned about compost he told me that when we die we don't need our bodies anymore they go back into the earth.   He also has a great memory.  Every year we visit my grandfather for Christmas.  When we walked into his house this year he said, "Where are my dinosaurs?"  I had no idea what he was talking about until I remembered that the year before we bought him a pack of cheap drug store dinosaurs for him to play with.  He can do 25 piece puzzles, but refuses to to anything but 12 anymore.

There are many more things that I can't remember or even know if they are advanced.  He is not reading but is always sounding out words verbally figuring out what letters are in the words.  He grasps concepts very quickly and can usually apply his knowledge or draw accurate conclusions.  

He seems lazy often and while advanced I'm not sure how significant.  As of right now he has no real interests they wax and wane.  Some days he makes me do math types of activities all day.  Lining up cars in groups and counting them.  Seeing how many more he has when adding different amounts.  Other days he just likes to cause trouble.  He is in preschool 3 days a week for two hours a day.  

I will give feedback.

ANSWER: I'd like to ask you a question about your son. You are not obligated to answer, but it helps me give you a better answer. Can you tell me more about him seeming lazy, and more about what you mean by "other days he just like to cause trouble"?

Is he your only child?

Dr. Coleman

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: When I say he is lazy it's because he often does not want to do his homework for school, clean up his toys, refuses to dress himself, most times I feed him his food.  He is 100% capable of doing these things.  I know I shouldn't feed him but he is very thin and I worry about him losing weight.  He seems to put in as little effort as possible and I always try to encourage perseverance and effort being very important.  I tell him to at least try and it's ok to fail.  He doesn't like to do things that doesn't come very easily.

When I said he likes to cause trouble I mean him deliberately doing things he's not supposed to do.  Climbing cabinets to grab lollipops in the morning, jumping on my back after I told him it hurts, taking the scissors without asking first, etc.  just general mischief that I suppose is normal, but the are days he's focused on things that interest him.  He also has been really throwing bad tantrums about going to bed or when I say no to irrational requests like going out in a snow storm at night.

He is my only child.

Thanks for your patience.

You are right to be concerned about your son's behavior - it means you're a good parent. More parents should be concerned.

In the previous answers I suggested, you probably noted that the most difficult, yet most important, part of parenting is teaching a child to get along with others and do the right thing, to shape their emotional well-being.

Just as your son wasn't born with knowing how to behave, you weren't born knowing how to be a parent. There's some learning for you to do about how you respond to his behaviors.  There's an exciting new book out: "Love and Respect in the Family" by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. It has very practical advice about thinking through situations, setting examples, setting limits, etc.
It's a Christian book, but for non-Christians it isn't "preachy" and is absolutely a good source, as well. They have a website, and the book is available on Amazon and other bookstores.

The other good resource for you is Free Spirit Publishing, with wonderful resources that will help you feel more competent and confident that you're teaching him well.

There's one other book I recommend - "Parenting with Love and Logic." It will help you get out of power struggles.

Change happens slowly, sometimes there are setbacks. You're not alone to deal with this, and these are things most parents go through. I have confidence in you that you can learn terrific parenting and its worth all the effort.

A good way to start making progress today: stop feeding him. That can handicap him, even if at first it's uncomfortable for you and he throws fits. Make a decision and stick with it. The words you use with him are "I know you can feed yourself, so I won't be feeding you again." End of story. You don't have to explain it. Few words are better than too many. Ignore his tantrums about it. If he keeps talking and demanding, the words you use are "I'm done talking about this." YOU MUST FOLLOW THROUGH. Not another word. You can do it.

You'll start noticing change very soon. Remember that you are the adult. Your job is to do what's right for him, whether he likes it or you or not. He may scream about hating you and say all kinds of hurtful things. Inside you, you're thinking "I'm the parent. I'm teaching. I can do this." Your confidence will soar.

Thank you for letting me serve you. Return to this site anytime. Please let me know how things go.

Dr. Faith

I returned to your answer because I thought you would like me to be more specific about giftedness. Your style of communication and astute observations tells me that you are above average in intelligence; that increases you son's chance of being gifted.

I think there is little doubt that your son is gifted. His early use of language is remarkable. Speaking in 11 word sentences is very advanced. It's very characteristic of gifted children to have large vocabularies. His handling of numbers is advanced as well. It's characteristics of gifted kids to have tight focus, even obsession, about one or two topics at a time, putting all their energy into that interest, then suddenly be done with it. There's another previous answer that would be good for you to read: 2/18/2012, "10 month old very interested in books,"; even though your son is older, the information applies to your son as well.

Free Spirit publishing will be good as a resource throughout your son's upbringing. You can learn about your son, and learn how giftedness affects everyone in a family. There are books, games, activities that are fun and more. There are some free resources.

This much information can feel overwhelming. You have all the time you need. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

One thing I tell all parents who are married: the very best thing you can do for your child is to make your marriage high priority. And have lots of family fun.

Please return to this site anytime. Thank you for letting me serve you. I hope it's been helpful.  

Gifted Children

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Faith A. Coleman MD


No questions are off-limits. My strengths are understanding what questioners are really trying to ask, knowing the right questions to get to useful answers, and putting complicated, subject-specific words and concepts into language accessible to lay-persons. The topic is fascinating and can be surprising, the opposite of what might logically seem expected of giftedness. I am skilled in identifying giftedness at any age, including very early in life.


Children constitute about one-third of the patients in a Family Medicine practice. I was Director of Children's and Women's Public Health Education Programs with the Northeast Texas Public Health District. I have two highly gifted children, one of whom attended Roeper School, listed first in this site's Sponsored Links. I was the health expert for Roeper's board of directors; I maintain contacts there. I'm on the board of directors of several organizations of which I'm a member. I spent a summer as the Medical Director of a camp for kids with ADD, ADHD, and psychiatric disorders. Editor, Medical Economics Publishing Co. licensure to teach K-12 in Oklahoma, with added qualification in Journalism

Champions for Children: Advocacy, resources, quality assessment, for early childhood daycare (Board of Directors). American Academy of Family Physicians. Michigan Academy of Family Physicians Society of Teachers of Family Medicine. READ: Advocacy, education, resources for teaching and encouraging literacy in adults. East Texas Network for Children (Planning Board).

Journals: Medical Economics, Contemporary OB/Gyn, Diagnostic Medicine. Albuquerque Journal Daily, Tyler Daily News, New Mexico Daily Lobo, New Citizen Weekly, Alpena News, daily.

BA, Journalism MD University of New Mexico School of Medicine. Internship, Detroit Medical Center. Family Practice Residency, Top-100 Hospital - Beaumont. Clinical Faculty appointments to three medical schools. Faculty, Family Practice Residency, Detroit area.

Awards and Honors
Two official commendations awarded by United States Army for service and contributions to young soldiers and families. Publishing Internship, Medical Economics Publishing Company. Research Internship, Hastings Institute of Society, Ethics, and the Life Sciences. Woman Medical Student of the Year. Numerous others.

Past/Present Clients
As above in experiences, publications and awards. Many thousands of patient/family encounters.

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