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Toddler is freaking me out - worried he may be very gifted

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 

Hi, everyone -

My name is Stephanie and I have a 2 year old (almost 2.5) and a 10 month old.  We live in a smallish town and I don't know a lot of mom's with toddlers.  In an effort to introduce my son to some playmates, I just started taking him to a daycare a couple of mornings a week.  I've always known he was bright, but now that I've met other two year olds and talked a bit with the teacher, I'm worried he may be more than just bright.  The teacher was a bit freaked out and that sort of got us freaked out.

 

There are a lot of gifted people on either side of the family.  But I don't think any of us showed it this early.  I don't work with him to teach him things, but we've always read to him and talked to him a lot. My husband got him a game that teaches phonics, and I've overheard him showing him numbers.... but we aren't the type of parents that have been strongly pushing academics.  I do encourage a lot of art time, though.

 

You all seem like a very active and knowledgable community.  Could you please tell me if any of the following is unusual for a 2 year old?

 

Knows all shapes and colors (learned by around age 1)

Knows all his letters (learned these at around 1 too) and the alphabet (order)

Knows the phonic sound(s) for each letter

Knows hundreds of sight words and is able to sound out words he doesn't know

He's reading early reader books (maybe kindergarten or 1st grade level? Not sure.)

Loves art and can draw basics like houses, happy faces, trees, rainbows, etc.

He has a great sense of humor :)

He makes up simple songs that he sings for us

He can count to 100

He can read numbers up to 100

He's starting to "draw letters" - but they are pretty crude still

 

I know  this is certainly advanced for a 2 year old... but is it gifted? Highly gifted?

 

My husband is worried that there is no local gifted program here.  Does that matter? We are self employed and could easily move if needed.  I can't see how my son would deal with kindergarten at age 5 when they are learning stuff he knew since he was two. 

 

ACK.... we are sorta freaking out. (quietly... this isn't the type of "issue" we are comfortable discussing with anyone we know)  Do we have reason to be concerned? Any good books I can read for raising a gifted child? If you couldn't already tell, I really don't feel like I know what I'm doing.

post #2 of 35

He may be gifted but no reason to freak-out or worry. The label doesn't change what you know about him. It's too early to know where he lands on the gifted spectrum and too early to know what sort of learning environment he'll prefer and thrive in years down the road. I have two gifted kids who are now 10 and 14. I understand your fear but don't let it overwhelm you. There are lots of options even if it doesn't seem so at the moment. If you try something and it doesn't work, try something else. Gifted programs aren't the end-all to a happy gifted child. One year at a time... that's how we handle it and honestly, giftedness is an after-thought for us now.

 

post #3 of 35

I would not freak out too much. At 2.5 just keep doing what you are doing....

 

Consider daycare a 'social learning' time for the most part. He will learn new skills (non-academic) and be exposed to other kids.

 

Yes, most 2 yr olds dont know those skills (esp the reading basic readers and counting past 30 or so) a 2.5 yr old or young 3 knowing those skills is most likely gifted--- you will run into a WIDE variety of skills at that age. We've (as a family) known quite a few 2 turning 3 yr olds that knew colors, shapes, letters, letter sounds. You may run into some late 2y old that can write a bit (DD could write her name & draw people/animals/etc at 2y 3m in large readable print, knew all letter sounds/letters, etc- but was not reading until a year later- no interest in math at.all.) My preschool  has a young 3 y old  boy that could read just about any number (into the ten thousands) in my preschool class. Unusual- yes. Something the director has only seen once in 15+ years. She has had about 1-2 readers (late 1st grade and beyond at age old 3 to 4.5) a year  (each year 50 kids). But our little 3 yr old math-loving kid enjoys preschool (play based) and he has no interest in words, just numbers and science (knows everything about planets!!). 

 

You may also see a stall in 'known' skills as he explores new skills (social, physical, etc) or he may just keep taking off in skills, but both are normal in gifted kids.

 

Deal w/ K when you get closer. Until age 4ish - most school district will do little. Then you may or may not have early entry, acceleration, gifted progamming, etc depending on your area. Next year when he is 3.5 you could look for some PreK programs that may or may not work for your little guy.

 

Meanwhile, you could look at starfall.com , pbskids.com, or other basic website if you want to allow him access to the computer. Keep up the art exploration!

 

Meanwhile, enjoy the little guy- get involved in as much as you can (library time, zoo activities, etc) and have fun!

post #4 of 35

Yes, his development is atypical for his age. I think you have reason to conclude he is gifted. I would try to keep that separate from concluding that you will be facing big problems. It is really a great thing for kids to learn easily. It can place a kid out of step with educational options so planning is not a bad idea.  I would suggest two books:

 

http://www.amazon.com/Parents-Guide-Gifted-Children/dp/0910707529/ref=tmm_pap_title_0   This is the best overall book out there.

 

and, Deborah Ruf's book might be helpful particularly for the educational recommendations section.

 

post #5 of 35

He sounds AMAZING!  I watch a little girl named Morghan after school who is now 7.  I have cared for her since she was three.  When she was three, I noticed how brilliant she was in comparison to even the smartest children i have taught so far.  Instead of watching movies, she has always wanted to do art projects or worksheets, she has always made straight As and her artistiic abilities are beyond compare.  She excels at everything she tries.

 

Of course there are some tough things that she has to face...  Being so smart she is also quite emotional and has a lot of outburts, however when treated with love and acceptance, her emotions relax. 

 

 

Morghan will accomplish great things, and i am sure that your son will also.  No need to freak out, just read up and love every moment...  the good and the bad.

post #6 of 35

I think you would be safe to assume he is gifted, most likely quite highly gifted.  We are raising a highly gifted girl, now 12, and when she was 2 I remember a couple of freaked out adults as well.  I actually had one say, 2 year olds don't talk like that, I've raised several 2 year olds, they do NOT do that!  I guess I was supposed to fess up that she was really an older kid in disguise or something. LOL

 

Any time you have a child that falls outside the norm in some area, there are some difficulties.  I wouldn't trade it for the world though - she was a fun little kid, a fun big kid, and now a fun adolescent.  Keep your options open with regard to academics, but some profoundly kids do just fine in the school system.  Ours wouldn't (with the school options locally), but we've made homeschooling work pretty well so far.  

 

Sounds like you have a fun little guy there - enjoy yourselves!

 

post #7 of 35
Thread Starter 

Thank you all so much!!!  I already feel calmer.  :)  I ordered the book linked above, thank you for that!

 

I've been reading the archives here, which is also helpful.  There are issues that I never connected to his giftedness that I am now learning may be connected.  He is a terrible sleeper, for example, and has been since the day he was born.  Right now he sleeps 7-8 hours at night and doesn't nap.  He also wakes up 2-3 times every night and needs some comforting to get back down.  He never seems tired, though, he just requires very little sleep.  He is definitely a handful (I call him exuberant). 

 

Thank you again for the thoughtful responses, especially as a first time poster. 

post #8 of 35

He sounds like my DS was at that age. :)  Except I called him "spirited."  LOL! You may run into difficulties, you may not, but it certainly doesn't hurt to read as much as you can.  Enjoy the ride, we are lucky to be on it. ;)

post #9 of 35

   I remember when my son was younger he was just so aware of everything. He would participate in all conversations if he was present ( why wouldn't he- I guess- we never told him children should be seen and not heard and we were talking right there...). We needed to watch what we said around him, and what he was exposed to as far a s potentially upsetting things, because he was very sensitive. Looking back I think that had something to do with his difficulty falling asleep because things sort of "came out" at night that he was trying to process.

  We have decided to homeschool and it has been wonderful! We can meet him where he is and help him develop his interests. It has been great to not have to focus so much time to teach reading- and amazing to watch a child who makes connections quickly and never forgets a thing learn and grow.

  It helped me a lot to read of this http://giftedkids.about.com/od/gifted101/a/overexcite.htm. He definitely experiences the world differently and at times it is challenging, but parenting him is amazing!

post #10 of 35

Yes, enjoy the ride is what I like to say, too! They are so much fun and they are soo exhausting.

 

Correctly, at this age you'd only call what your DS is doing "developmentally advanced", but from what I recall, your DS' skills (particularly in their comprehensiveness!) at age 2.5 are somewhat unusual even in the context of this forum (correct me if I'm wrong winky.gif!). Yeah, I'd say stock up on books about giftedness, you won't be sorry down the road. it is a good idea to be cognizant of typical issues that come up in gifted families so you'll know how to react.

 

It is a sad fact that people (particularly people like DCP, preschool teachers and experienced parents who see lot of kids and have a good grasp on whats normal and what just isn't) may freak out at a kid like yours. it doesn't mean that you have to freak out, too. Yes, for a 2yo who has mastered K skills it is probably a good idea to research ahead what kind of educational options there are (for instance, some people swear by Montessori for gifted kids, others by play-based schools but not all Montessori schools and not all play-based schools work for everyone). But don't freak out until you have to! And people here will help.

 

It is another sad fact that people may freak out (or think you are lying) if you just talk about what your child can do, without their even having met him. There is a safe place here if you just want to share stuff you'd rather not share too much about IRL, the monthly "What are they doing now" thread. Enjoy!

post #11 of 35

 

 

Quote:
It is a sad fact that people (particularly people like DCP, preschool teachers and experienced parents who see lot of kids and have a good grasp on whats normal and what just isn't) may freak out at a kid like yours.

 

This has become our biggest issue!

 

Our three year old brings on attention and we have basically just shut up about it and try and keep him quiet as best as we can when we are out. We only mingle with a small select group of friends that DO understand.

 

So many misguided people have "issues" and the remarks we get are not always kind.

 

We DO NOT tell ANY anymore what our son can do, simply just seeing him causes major problems when we are out in public. We have even stopped saying how old he is.

We were assault (for use of a better word) by a "older" woman when we were out dinning and she had no problem coming up and making crude remarks and insinuations that we were the worst parents in the world for  "teaching" our child----------and really, she had only seen a little of what my son is like and just assumed we forced this "education" on him-a freak-en complete strange! 

 

Most of the really negative and down right rude remarks come from other parents. Playgroups, playgrounds and story hours for the most part- completely out of the question. It's such a pain to have to make small talk and get hit with crude remarks about our son.

post #12 of 35

For me, the hardest part of it has been knowing that my child's trajectory as a young one is no different than my own was, so if he is a freak to others, I must have been too. And, I was never made to feel like one, so it has been more difficult for my own sense of self than my child's. We still think our kid is pretty normal--despite the fact that the other parents at his birthday party this weekend were all slack-jawed when he read all the first three clues for his treasure hunt perfectly. We ended up wrestling the clues away from him--even as the other children handed them to him-- and giving the other kids the chance to open them and have their parents read them out loud to take the focus off DS's reading.

 

He's caused many people to do double takes in his short life, but this was the first time it was the parents of his peers--the teachers now expect it, as do his classmates. None of them think anything of it, but the parents definitely thought we had some deep secret we weren't willing to share that made him into such a precocious reader.

post #13 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tigerle View Post

 

It is a sad fact that people (particularly people like DCP, preschool teachers and experienced parents who see lot of kids and have a good grasp on whats normal and what just isn't) may freak out at a kid like yours. it doesn't mean that you have to freak out, too. Yes, for a 2yo who has mastered K skills it is probably a good idea to research ahead what kind of educational options there are (for instance, some people swear by Montessori for gifted kids, others by play-based schools but not all Montessori schools and not all play-based schools work for everyone). But don't freak out until you have to! And people here will help.

 

It is another sad fact that people may freak out (or think you are lying) if you just talk about what your child can do, without their even having met him. There is a safe place here if you just want to share stuff you'd rather not share too much about IRL, the monthly "What are they doing now" thread. Enjoy!


We have been lucky and had wonderfully supportive preschool/ECI/community teachers. My girls were in a preschool class for 3s and they could read, write their names,etc. The teacher went with it.

 

The next year , again, we had a stellar teacher that did literacy activities with all the children and adapted them to suit our girls needs.

 

Our librarian knew my girls on sight and suggested books for them (ages 3 & 4) fro early reading.

 

The community ECI teachers were fantastic as well and never made negative remarks about their skills. Two years later we still communicate with them on a friendly terms. Even our old IEP team (one DD has gross motor delays and some social awkwardness) has been great about the wide variance between her academic and social/physical skills. 

 

Yes, we have had some comments (both on academics and on one DDs quirkiness behaviorwise) about our parenting---but people are like that. I tend to let it roll off my back. Usually, especially when they were younger--- I would state "yes, she can read." when asked or something else neutral w/ o elabortation.

 

As I said, we've been well supported and it is probably not the norm.

 

 

I am anxiously awaiting K next Fall- that will be the true test of how the schools see them and fit them in (we are doing a K/1 split class so that will have some advantages).

 

post #14 of 35

My son did all that at that age. The pediatrician was freaked out by my son reading.  My son had a complete evaluation (at 3 and at 7.5).  The second eval did show that he is highly gifted but 

it also shows that my son is on the autism spectrum.

 

I never use the term 'gifted' in real life.  I may use the term 'academically advanced' when trying to make the school understand his boredom.  Gifted children handle their abilities differently.

Some do fine, some have issues arise from it.  

 

In my area, neuropsychologists won't do a complete evaluation until the child is at least 3 yrs old (unless their are severe issues.)

post #15 of 35

WisconsinMom, PM me.  I'm in Wisconsin too, and I have a three year old who is quite advanced also.  Maybe we can set up a playdate if we are close enough. 

post #16 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by whatsnextmom View Post

He may be gifted but no reason to freak-out or worry. The label doesn't change what you know about him. It's too early to know where he lands on the gifted spectrum and too early to know what sort of learning environment he'll prefer and thrive in years down the road. I have two gifted kids who are now 10 and 14. I understand your fear but don't let it overwhelm you. There are lots of options even if it doesn't seem so at the moment. If you try something and it doesn't work, try something else. Gifted programs aren't the end-all to a happy gifted child. One year at a time... that's how we handle it and honestly, giftedness is an after-thought for us now.

 



This is good advice. By the time you prepare for kindergarten, you will know more. 

 

At 2, my son was doing those same things. But, as logical, true, and well intentioned all the "don't worry about it/go with the flow" advice is, I think it is not addressing what some of the inevitable reality is. And, I'm going to spill some more beans- it doesn't get easier in toddler-land for parents of kids like this. Not only do teachers/educators get a little weirded out, but you will run into all kinds of bizzare stuff. People will tell you giftedness doesn't exist. People who will try to "slow them down". People who are "jealous" (esp. because they are not privvy to all the host of other challenges of the "gifted-er" end of the spectrum). Some people flat out won't believe you. You will get to know that look of amazement with a little hostility just beneath the surface with strangers and other people who get a glimpse of these things. You will have conflicts in yourself, as you will want support, but others don't understand. On top of that, there is this idea of "bragging" when really you are being a regular mom and celebrating accomplishments, or in the worst case scenarios, with professionals who are inexperienced with this type of thing that immediately put you in the category of "THAT type of mom" because they really have no clue. Friends and family may see it as a competition with their kids and the relationship changes. This tends to get a bit easier as they hit 5 or 6, as they are still the same gifted, but it is not as obvious to random strangers as it is with toddlers. It is more that they "seem pretty regular" at playdates and summer camp and stuff but are reading or doing math or have a talent well beyond their years that is not quite as public anymore, so it is easier to manage socially.

 

So while, yes- the "best thing to do" is to take one step at a time (and I agree not to worry *too* much about school, but maybe sketch out a few options to casually think about in the next 2 years) and just keep DC interested and happy, I also think that we should recognize that it is not always easy and there is an emotional level for parents in particular that can be hard.

 

On a personal level, I really had a low point with it all. At about 4, I really came to see that this was not going to be the childhood that I had imagined. Of course, I love my son beyond the stars, but the idea of walking with his friends to the cute local school (2 blocks from us!) was not going to happen (we ended up with a private school). All the fun little sports teams, not gonna happen (he's very attached and does not like to "go" with people he does not know.... Change is hard for him). Lazy Saturday afternoons are not lazy, but times of passionate intensity with hobbies that end in huge messes and we balance on the emotional edge because he is intense about everything. At 6 he STILL wakes up at night and one of us ends up sleeping with him. I wasn't going to be chillin' with the other moms easily talking about the latest going on with the kids (I've learned that that information stays best with just a few close friends and relatives). I could go on, but that is the idea. He was not going to be easy. He was not going to walk the regular kid path. And, in all honesty, I had to allow myself a chance to let that go and accept it.

 

I totally get it. At 2.5 mine was finding our cars by their license plate numbers, directing us around town from his carseat, and reading upside down. For me, knowing that he was gifted, having other people who understood this stuff and that I wasn't the only one doing it was really important. We had some phone meetings with The Gifted Development Center in Denver and they were really helpful in providing some rough outlines and guidance. They are not cheap, but the piece of mind that I was not nuts seeing what I was seeing and that they could validate some of the other emotional and social things going on with him and connecting some of the dots was worth it.

post #17 of 35

My son used to "freak" people out all the time at 2.  It made going to a few playgroups hard as they would compare him to their kids and then talk negatively about their own kids in front of them!  They keep asking what I did and if I drilled him etc.  No, I didn't.  I would just follow his interests and read out loud tons.  Our biggest problem is competition between my two as they are only 22 months apart.  Also consider homeschooling-getting their academic "needs' meet in most school settings is very hard.

post #18 of 35

Alexsam-Can you elaborate on more of the emotional stuff that your kid struggles with?  We have some strange behavior over here and I am wondering how much of it is emotional.  Thanks!  My son is 5 and currently in a private school but we are thinking about homeschooling.

post #19 of 35

 

 

Quote:
This tends to get a bit easier as they hit 5 or 6, as they are still the same gifted, but it is not as obvious to random strangers as it is with toddlers. It is more that they "seem pretty regular" at playdates and summer camp and stuff but are reading or doing math or have a talent well beyond their years that is not quite as public anymore, so it is easier to manage socially.

 

NOT for us! For my DD that's when things started to get worse!

under 5 you can contain a lot of activities and avoid "freak-out" moments by selecting what you want to do socially but it really changed for us from five upward

 

The pressure from family and friends to "just fit-in" not to mention that educators and other professionals could see my DD and that caused her to be excepted into programs her peers were not part of (really made her stand  out and not in a "good" way to others)- trying to explain why others have such a problem was one of the biggest problems.

 

I had it with both of mine (rude comments made by others) from a very early age but as they grow up the comments from some people become more vocal and the child becomes more aware-since most people seem to feel children are deaf angry.gif and have no problem saying things right in front of them!

 

I felt the younger ages were far more easy to deal with "freak outs". A seven year melting down because an adult just flipped out is a whole other thing.

 

Adults in general were more of the problem, the peers are but not the same way. My DD mostly dealt with much older peers as a way of getting around that stuff.

post #20 of 35
I'm reading this with interest. My ds is 22 months and I know that freak out. I don't know if he'll be reading that well by 2.5 (can't see into the future), but he's certainly advanced. Shapes, colors, numbers, vocab, alphabet & sounds, some sight words. We can't spell certain words out near him anymore (toothbrush & ice cream come to mind) - he freaks out & wants in on it. At 18 months he started drawing airplanes that looked liked airplanes. His helicopters and space shuttles take a little more squinting to see.

My freak out came when I took him to the dr for an ear infection & I showed her the plane he drew the day before. She was beside herself & rambled on about all these gifted kids she had had in her practice, and none of them were doing what DS is doing at his age. Total freak out. As in up all night reading & searching.

Educate yourself about YOUR school system & how they deal with/support advanced kids. I live in MA & we have NO gifted programs. As in $0 for funding. Ranks 49th in the nation for gifted Ed. Our school system does what they call cluster grouping, and although I've heard some good things from parents in the district, I'm not optimistic. As we are in a semi-rural/ex-burb area, our choices for private school are limited by distance. I'm leaning toward homeschooling, but I'm not going to make up my mind yet. We have a strong homeschool community here, with lots of great opportunities - so I THINK I can put together something together that will fit him much better (he's very, very active - but if he changes as he grows, I'll take that into account. But he HAS to be outside to remain even keeled). One thing I'm eager to avoid is labeling and questions from school officials.

For socialization, I've got him playing with a few 3.5 - 4 year olds. He fits right in. The 7 year old neighbor kid loves playing with him too, but that's a different kind of play (but ds adores him). his 3.5 yr old cousin is a good interest fit for him - they both love space stuff, although DS knows & can verbalize the names of different rockets, the stages of separation, the process of the space shuttle going into orbit/separating from the boosters, etc as well as knowing his planets in order and if you mix up the order, by sight or from memory. Ive had to learn all this stuff just to keep up. It's nuts. But usually with other kids he just smashes cars and trucks and they race them around. Other kids the same age as DS aren't ready for that kind of play yet and they just look at DS with this blank stare. And many older kids don't want to play with a "baby". It's really hard to find appropriate playmates. And playmates with appropriate parents too. Some other parents have made a big deal out of DS's abilities, and it made me uncomfortable. Comments like "walking dictionary" and repeated questions about "photographic memories" are kind of creepy.

We also take a lot of field trips. Museums, science centers, botanical gardens, the butterfly place, and audobon farm, the library, etc. Lots of nature hikes where we stop, observe & talk about...everything. I catch frogs & bugs for him. We spend a lot of time in the yard & in the garden. We visit a lot of farms. We keep bird feeders full (he likes to watch & ID birds). If we don't go OUT somewhere fun a few times a week life gets really miserable.

How's your 10 month old? At this point I'm very hesitant to have another child. DS takes a lot of time & attention and I cannot fathom how I could handle 2 kids like DS. I'm exhausted as it is.
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