How to spot your child's hidden gifts

Children reading together
Gifted child expert Bernadette Tynan reveals some different types of talents your child might have and how to nurture them.

Gifted children show their hidden talents in all manner of ways, not all of which can be captured on simple pen and paper tests. A child can be gifted and talented right there under our noses. But unless you can read the signs, the danger is their gift could remain hidden, slipping through the net and under the radar at school.

Einstein once said, “Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted.” He was talking about the limits of mathematics to capture fully the mysteries of the cosmos. The same can be said of the limits of tests to reveal gifted and talented children's true abilities.

Here are some of the characteristics you might spot in your child and the hidden talents they could be hiding:

The turbo-chatterbox

On a long journey this child has no problem chatting – all the way. They only really ever stop talking when they are sound asleep, and even then they may natter in their sleep!

Chatterboxes are gifted verbal communicators, thinking at high speed. Treasure and nurture this fabulous gift and they will excel in any field requiring superb communication. From brilliant barrister, actor, TV presenter, to United Nations negotiator, they could excel. 

The fairytale teller

From being knee high to a grasshopper, they have always loved making up stories. They often present you with their little book, poem, or new word they found.

Always listen intently and value their gift. When they experiment with new big words they can’t yet spell, praise them. Save all their stories - you could have the next CS Lewis or JK Rowling on your hands. 

The great entertainer

For this child, being in the limelight comes naturally, they have a knack for being the heart and soul of the party, even if that happens to be the literacy hour at school! Pity the teacher, for this child knows exactly what to say or do to get the class rolling around with laughter. And, of course, their timing is perfect. Dependent upon the teacher, report cards will come back with ‘class clown’ to ‘outgoing personality’.

Combine this with a gift for singing, dancing, acting, music, or all of these, and you could have the next Mick Jagger, Sandra Bullock or Richard Gere sitting at breakfast. 

The visionary

They tune out for hours daydreaming and doodling, they appear to be in their own little world. Think Da Vinci or the aviator Howard Hughes and you would be on the right track. Visionaries don’t know any boundaries or limits to possibilities; that is their gift. Practicalities are not their concern. Their focus is on ideas that will take us all forwards, onwards and upwards. Let them dream!

The bossy boots

On their first day at nursery they re-arranged the Wendy House and the rest of the class. They have an innate sense of what works and how to organise people to get the best results. Without fear, they will step in to sort any problems out. This isn’t bossiness, it is the gift of leadership. Think Elizabeth I in the Golden Age, the next Prime Minister, CEO of a massive corporation, or world champion for Human Rights.

  • Adapted from Make Your Child Brilliant (Quadrille, £14.99) by Bernadette Tynan, international bestselling author and expert in gifted children.