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Gifted Children/Possible gifted traits in 13 month old twins, with frequent tantrums



Thank-you for taking the time to read my question. I have twin 13 month old fraternal girls who were born at 35+4 without any significant health issues or complications. They have always been a handful but as they have gotten older I have started to notice differences from other children the same age. Their understanding seems comprehensive and advanced. I will describe each separately as they are different. I'm wondering about the behavioural manifestations of giftedness in children.

Twin 2 - is an affectionate and extremely observant child. She has not been advanced from a gross motor perspective but I was able to teach her colours (green, yellow, blue, pink, red, white, black...) when describing her blocks at around 11 months. I then wondered if I could teach her A, B, Cs and at 13 months old she can recognise 7 or so letters which she has learnt over the last 2 weeks or so through incidental descriptions of blocks and fridge magnets. She knows 4 body parts which she can point to and can identify most animals, foods. She follows directions and can pick out specific books from the shelves. She spends most of her day next to the books, turning pages which she has been doing for many months (say 4 or so?).

Twin 1 - Is curious, cheeky and exceptionally high energy when she is awake. I have not kept a precise record but she has hit many of her major behavioural milestones very slightly early. Her gross motor development seems like it has been in normal limits - sitting at 6 months to the day, crawling at 7.5 months, walking at 12 months etc. I have noticed as with her sister that she can also recognise the same colours above and a similar number of letters. She is equally obsessed with books. She however is especially prone to tantrums and some days these are almost perpetual. This is extremely challenging for me to manage. This is excessive compared to other children her age that she interacts with. The tantrums usually start with something she wants but is unable to have (coffee cup, computer) or something done to her that she does not like (wiping her face) or related to me moving away from her even slightly. Often she screams and I can't work out why. She is however an affectionate child, makes good eye contact, is very socially appropriate, gives kisses and spontaneously initiates cuddles. I've been thinking that perhaps these tantrums are related to frustration and her intelligence level? She is happy, quiet and observant when she is given constant novel stimulation and I am interacting with her one on one however as you can imagine I am unable to do this all the time.

This may sound a bit strange but I feel there is even more that they understand/ recognise but that they don't always want to play the game that I am playing/ seeing if they understand. Twin 2 has 5 or so words and Twin 1 has 8 or so. Their understanding of words however is much greater than this (50? Just an estimate).

So my questions are:
- I'm not sure whether their behaviour so far might represent giftedness or whether they are simply intelligent. (Both myself and my husband are academically inclined just for background and my husband is highly intelligent and had delayed speech).
- Can tantrums in this age group be related to frustration and boredom? And if so, how might I manage it? Twin 1 will need to learn that I cannot devote my undivided attention to her all the time. I do not know whether to reassure her or be more firm with her.
- Can you have gifted twins or could I perhaps be generalising the behaviour of one to the other?

Thank-you again for taking the time to read my question.

Kind Regards,

Thank you for reaching out. It may be Wed. or even Thurs. before I can give your question the careful attention it deserves. Until then, I am suggesting two previous answers which can be helpful to you, and a resource for information.

2/19/12 "10 month old daughter very interested in books"

4/28/12 "Behavioral issues with my possibly gifted child"

Free Spirit Publishing:

Thank you for your patience. You will receive a personal answer.

Dr. Coleman

Yesterday I had a lengthy answer for you and when I tried to send it, my computer dropped it. I'm going to address your concerns now, but I'll send it in smaller blocks of text. Hopefully that will work until I get my computer.

Part of what determines intelligence is genetic, so your's and your husband's intelligence both contribute to your daughters' intelligence. Your style of communication, observation and thought processes tell me that you're of higher intelligence. It's an interesting fact, too, that twins may be more prone to higher intelligence than singletons. It's believed that twins experience some stress in the womb, due to crowding and other factors. That stress often enhances their intrauterine development, rather than having negative effects, although those can occur too.

These answers are very pertinent to the behavior issues you're dealing with, including step-by-step instruction in how you respond.

11/18/13 Almost 4 year old tantrums

11/26/12 Gifted toddler with behavioral issues

1/29/13  Gifted or immature, important info about emotional development is associated with this site, and is a good reference. It has brief articles about understanding and raising gifted kids, and a weekly newsletter you can sign up to receive. Ironically, today's topic is about gifted kids being intense.

I'll send this now, and start another.  

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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