Gifted Children and Curiosity
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
Our oldest son is what I call my "high-needs child." I'm
wondering if any of his behavior is indicative of high
intelligence or if you have ideas on how his brain is
He's 5 years old and EXTREMELY inquisitive. He asks
questions like no one I've ever met, and we've heard the
same from the daycare and from our sitter. He's
super-sensitive. He's always been fast at picking up on
things (early walker, talker, knew colors, numbers, etc.
early), but what stands out about him is the constant
questions and the way he mulls over things. I've even had
theological discussions with him about heaven and
transformed bodies and death and resurrection and
It gets to a point where my husband and I are just tired of
being questioned all the time. And it's not about minor
things like "why is the sky blue?" It'll be something really
bizarre. Like we were watching "Master and Commander," and
our son became very interested in the medical scenes, how
there was no medicine during surgery and the sailors could
feel everything. We had days worth of dialogue over the
state of medicine in the late 18th Century.
I'm just wondering if this characteristic is anything you've
seen before. He stands out so much in that respect.
His younger sister is much different, and I often wonder if
she might be the gifted one (very imaginative, quieter, long
attention span, makes such unique observations and
comparisons), but at least I can figure her out. Our oldest
son has left me confused (and exhausted!). Any advice?
A: Gifted children come in many
types - a diverse group with many different exceptional
gifts and talents; e.g., mathematics, language skills,
music, sports, etc. Whatever form their gifts may take,
gifted children are passionate about their interests once
they discover them. They are known to focus tremendous
energy on the topics that absorb them, often to the
exclusion of other activities. From your description, I
believe that you son is gifted, and I have worked with some
gifted children who resemble your son. It is hard to tell if
your daughter is gifted since there is minimal information.
A distinct characteristic among the gifted is curiosity.
Gifted children are driven to explore their world, to know
it and to categorize it. Therefore, questioning, a skill
that many gifted children possess is used to satisfy their
curiosity. You will note that the types of questions asked
are of a different level, not the ones asked commonly by his
peers. The ability to ask such questions is a gift in
itself. As parents/teachers, we need to feed them with the
necessary information. Otherwise, they will be left puzzled
and very dissatisfied – and this dissatisfaction can be
manifested in negative ways.
In fact, you need to work on this skill to make sure he is
getting what he needs. A gifted child would want to know
something about everything and the younger they are; the
more they would be dependent on you. You may want to set
some boundaries as endless questioning can take a toll on
your energy and may not be fair to other people in the
I would suggest some strategies to deal with his questions.
Firstly, when he asks he anything, ask him back to gauge how
much he knows and help him find out. Ask open questions like
“what do you think”, “how come”, etc that will stimulate his
imagination. Remember, the answers need not be correct all
the time. This will help him get into the habit of thinking
out his questions which is very useful. Reading is an
excellent way to find answers and you will find that to feed
his curiosity, he will learn to read faster! The internet is
a great source as well. You can look up stuff he asks on the
internet. As parents, we'll have to face the fact that these
days, children absorb so much more – more than adults! Make
sure you have encyclopedia, thesaurus and other reading
materials to enable him to look up anything he may not be
sure of. This is also a skill he can learn early.
If you want to know his strengths and weaknesses, you can
test his intelligence using a reliable and reputable test.
Interpretation by a qualified psychologist may even help you
determine his learning journey at this stage. What ever you
do, keep answering those questions! Good luck in your