Formal ADHD diagnosis or not, here are some tips to keep you from giving up.
Recently, I was asked to sit in on a child study meeting for one of the students I work with in the gifted program. For those of you who may not know, a child study meeting is one in which the parents of a child and a variety of professionals in the education field sit down together to discuss (and brainstorm solutions to) any troubles that the child may be having in school. Typically, these meetings grow out of behavior concerns: defiance issues, perhaps; attendance concerns, maybe; and, more typically, concerns about distraction or attention.
In cases where there is a clear and previous diagnosis of ADHD, the suggestions for assisting the child are fairly routine. The teacher might, for example, be sure to sit him away from distractions (out of the path of, say, the pencil sharpener or the water fountain); she might make sure that the child consults a “backpack checklist” to inventory what he’ll need in order to do his homework that night; she might try a behavior modification program that offers a reward of some kind if the child remembers to raise his hand before blurting out answers or if he asks permission before running off to the bathroom.
For those who are reading this column I suspect that, interested as you are in gifted education, it comes as no surprise that gifted students can also have distraction issues. Some may have an official ADD or ADHD diagnosis, yes, but many others may not—despite the fact that they may be equally affected, even in some cases debilitated, by the problems of chronic distractibility. The reason? Their intellectual gifts help them cope with it in ways that keep them a bit lower under the radar.
Take, for example, the gifted student’s ability to rapidly assimilate new information with less practice than his peers. This trait affords him the opportunity to miss his teacher’s review of two-digit multiplication three out of the four times because, the one time he did tune in, he got it. (In fact, because he often has a knowledge base that exceeds those of his chronological peers he may even have known the material already!)
When that child is at school, there are some things that the teacher can do to help, which is the reason why committees (such as our “child study”) meet together periodically to discuss, assess, and revise the progress of such distraction issues. But it is certainly fair to say that in these circumstances—whether or not there is a formal ADD/ADHD diagnosis—both parent and child are likely to continue to face hardships even after the school day has finished. The very real problems that these gifted children face—poor organizational skills, an inability to focus, perhaps even a long-suffering attitude about school in general—can turn completing a homework math worksheet into a battle for sanity. Here, then, are a few tips for parents who find themselves ready to throw in the towel with their distractible gifted child.
Limit distractions. Make homework time part of a larger predictable household routine, and make sure your child is equipped to succeed during that time. Pick a place to work with adequate light for reading. Gather all the supplies she will need for completing the assignment in advance and lay them out. If your child would like a glass of water to sip while she works, have it ready. Whenever you are having any discussions about school or schoolwork, be sure your child has the benefit of being able to hear you clearly; and make sure she is given the opportunity to share her own thoughts without others interrupting or competing for attention.
Consider the space. Many families use the kitchen table for homework. But is the TV on in the background? Are there lots of other family conversations going on around the child as dinner is prepared? If so, consider shifting to a different work place or moving the homework to a different time in the evening.
Avoid over-organization. Your child arrives home with a backpack full of wrinkled papers, unable to locate the week’s spelling list (or that critical permission slip that is “absolutely needed by tomorrow!”). The parent thinks, “Aha! We’ll set up a separate folder for each subject and have an extra one for teacher notes!” This is a common trap. The trouble for the highly unfocused child, who already struggles with organization, is that she has now been given the monumental challenge of becoming ultra-organized—a paradox if ever there was one. Find a happy medium. Maybe you’ll have three folders: one for office notes; one for completed homework to be turned in the next day; and a final one to be used for all papers given out in class, regardless of subject. At home, you can model how to move through and organize those folders for the next school day.
Stay positive and don’t lose your cool. Honestly, when your child has misplaced a paper for the hundredth time that week, or has quit working on her homework in favor of inspecting the contents under the couch cushions again, it’s hard not to blow your stack. But of all the suggestions you can heed, this is primary. Find ways to praise (“Hey, you’ve put your name on the paper! That’s a great start!”) and remain calm. Breathe deep, refocus your own energies, and remind yourself that this is better than getting into the ever-predictable power struggle that would inevitably occur otherwise.
Finally, ask for help and advice. Relatives, teachers, and fellow parents are the best sources of hints. Chances are pretty good that whatever you are experiencing, others have gone through it before. Benefit from their trials and tribulations! Talk it out, be flexible, try suggestions, and see what happens.
You’ve got three-quarters of the school year still to go, so take heart. That’s plenty of time for both of you to practice.
Your Turn: Do you have a gifted child that is highly distractible? Or were/are you, perhaps, one of those people? What strategies seem to work for you? Share your thoughts in the comments. We’d love to hear your ideas.
While some parents go to great lengths to try to have their children identified as “gifted,” I would like to shed some light on the reality of what raising a gifted child really means.
First, a quiz. Which of the following do you believe to be true?
- a) Gifted children usually get straight A’s in school
- b) Gifted children are often teacher’s pets in the classroom
- c) Gifted children have exceptional executive function (organization, time management, etc.) skills
- d) Gifted children tend to be natural leaders
- e) None of the above
The answer is, of course, e. The statements above describe high-achieving students, not gifted ones. This is a distinction parents of gifted children would like others to understand.
High achievers are students who perform at peak academic levels. They take the hardest classes and ace them all. They are tenacious. They have grit. Teachers love them because they eagerly engage with whatever material is presented in class. Peers admire their academic success and look up to them. High achievers often take on leadership roles in extracurricular activities. They play sports and an instrument and they are leaders in clubs. High achievers have excellent study skills and social skills and they go on to excel at elite colleges.
Gifted students, on the other hand, may or may not earn high marks in school depending on a host of factors including their interest in the subject being taught, their respect for the depth of knowledge the teacher possesses and even their level of physical comfort in the classroom. Gifted students often frustrate teachers because they don’t quite live up to their potential, especially in classes that are too easy for them. Gifted children often have poor executive function skills so they lose homework and don’t know how to study for exams. Many gifted children have few friends because of their esoteric interests. Sometimes these students feel so isolated that they become depressed … even suicidal. A surprisingly large number of gifted students drop out of high school and never make it to college, despite their high innate intelligence.
While all children have gifts, not all children are “gifted” as defined by researchers and educators around the globe. The most commonly used definition is as follows: “Giftedness is asynchronous development in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm. This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity. The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching and counseling in order for them to develop optimally.” (The Columbus Group, 1991)
What this means is that gifted children have ‘special needs’ that the typical classroom teacher does not have the bandwidth or training to address. This is why school districts go to great lengths to identify gifted students—these kids require special support in order for them to stay engaged in the learning process.
Some gifted students are also high achievers but many are not. What other parents and teachers often don’t see are the hidden components of being gifted, including emotional overexcitability, crippling anxiety, existential angst and other social and emotional issues resulting from asynchronous brain development.
Having your child identified as “gifted” at school is no better or worse than having them qualify for any other academic support service. Parents who pay for tutoring services to teach their child how to “act more gifted” so they “get into” gifted programs at school would be wise to spend those dollars instead on enrichment classes to help their children become high achievers – or to save that money for college.
Susan Winebrenner Monday, October 02, 2017
By this time of the school year, some learners may be struggling to complete their work in certain subject areas ( including some struggling learners ). Although there may be evidence that this problem has been present in previous school years, this year’s teacher will suffer frustration with these events.
To fully understand this dynamic, try to remember a time when you felt “trapped” at a mandatory in-service, class or other event at which you discovered almost immediately that you already knew all the content but were still required to stay to the bitter end of the event. I’m predicting that your primary goal became getting out of there early, at almost any cost!
That’s exactly the way gifted or advanced learners feel about many classes they are required to attend when the content is targeted at the “typical” student of a certain age. When we consider that a practical definition of “gifted” may be the ability to learn material designed for students two or three years older than typical students at a grade level, you can understand some of their rather unpleasant behaviors in your class that they hope will communicate their frustrations to you.
Blurting calls attention to them, even as they are trying to let us know how advanced their knowledge is. Complaints such as, “Why do we have to do this work?” or “I already know this stuff!” often makes their teachers extremely unhappy. Getting the right answer without showing their work is another attempt for them to demonstrate their advanced learning abilities.
Their teachers might conclude that such students are lazy or not trying hard enough. If you have had a conference with their parents, you may have learned that this is a pattern that has been equally frustrating in other grades as well.
There are at least two interventions that are somewhat typical.
One is informing these students that there will be unpleasant consequences if their behavior continues in this manner. The problem with that approach, however, is that it often compounds the situation, rather than providing a solution.
Dr. Raymond Wlodkowski, a recognized expert in motivation for both students and adults, suggests that we should avoid a punitive approach in these situations. When educators make threats, such as failing grades, calling parents or staying after school for a detention, one of the most predicable student reactions is resentment.
The student may feel frightened, angry, not smart and/or totally misunderstood. These feelings lead to the student mistrusting the teacher and grumbling about the teacher’s lack of fairness, or even that the teacher does not like the student. These thoughts in turn lead to a desire to “get back” at the teacher and may be expressed openly or more subtly as vindictiveness.
Of course, this leads the teacher to feeling frustrated and quite certain that even more sanctions are needed. As you can imagine, things escalate quickly into what may be called “the relentless cycle of threat.”
A second option is to recognize that this student’s claims may be truthful, and begin to offer “compacting of the standards” to all students who wish to try it. The term was coined years ago by Dr. Joseph Renzulli, who reasoned that gifted students get weary of all the work they are expected to do that actually represents “garbage” to them. They could throw it away and never miss it because they already know it.
Since trash is often “compacted” by garbage trucks, Renzulli thought the term magically fit these situations. I concur as I have seen it reawaken an advanced learner who had “tuned out” of the schoolwork, and actually increased their motivation to do some work that was more challenging for them.
The easiest way to start compacting is by using a simple and fair strategy called “Most Difficult First.” Let’s say you are a first grade teacher who has a student who appears to be able to read simple books. Instead of expecting her to do all the prereading skill work, circle on her work pages the three activities you think are the most difficult of all that is on that page.
In the upper grades, it’s easy to do this with math or other skill work. After you have taught a lesson, and are allowing students to practice the skills, just write the numbers of the five problems from the assignment you consider to be the most difficult.
In both cases, students who get zero or one wrong, but four or five correct, can be told they are done practicing and go on to some extension work you have ready for this need.
Two notes of caution:
1. We never offer “extra credit” for students who finish an assignment ahead of others. Smart kids have figured out that this offer is no great honor. It feels just like more work than other students are doing.
2. We allow any student who wants to try to do just that. If they make more than one mistake, you simply tell them that they apparently “need more practice,” so they should go back to the start of the assignment and begin there.
In this way, we are raising the number of students who might earn the right to do less practice, whether or not they have ever been formally identified as gifted.
Good luck. Please let me hear your thoughts with your comments.
About the Author
Susan Winebrenner is a consultant and author who works with school districts to help them translate current educational research into classroom practice. Susan has a passion for motivating and teaching students at both ends of the learning continuum. She has co-authored two books that have appeared in several editions for more than 20 years: “Teaching Gifted Kids in Today’s Classroom,” and “Teaching Kids with Learning Difficulties in Today’s Classroom.” Her other co-authored books include “The Cluster Grouping Handbook” and “Differentiated Lessons for Every Learner.”
I teach all kinds of students, from struggling learners to students classified as gifted, or GATE (gifted and talented education). Each group, and each subgroup within each group, has different characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses. With every group, there are generalizations made that do a disservice to, well, servicing the students within them.
In terms of teaching GATE students, there are misconceptions that many teachers have that don’t help to reach those kids efficiently, much less successfully. We’re teaching in an era not just of differentiation but also of individualization, and as such, we have to acknowledge that the generalizations that have formed about certain groups don’t apply to many individuals and don’t necessarily apply to the group as a whole at all.
How Students Qualify for GATE
In order to become a GATE student, a student must pass a certain test or tests. What many don’t know, however, is that the tests don’t result in an overall assessment of gifted in every subject. That is, a student who is marked as G on your enrollment list might indeed be GATE in math, but not necessarily in language arts, or visa versa.
Their designation might have been due in part to their ability in speaking, but not in writing. You get the idea. Think of it this way: In middle school, in particular, you get a wide variety of student appearances. This affects how people perceive a student, and it isn’t always accurate.
Labels sometimes cause the same inaccuracies. Just as the biggest middle schooler, the one who is taller than most seniors in high school, might also be the youngest in maturity, so are GATE kids assumed to have it all together. Some do. For others, however, their advantage can also be their challenge, and until we speak freely about our assumptions and compare them to the reality, we won’t be able to fully help GATE students achieve their potential.
Confronting Our Assumptions
Which brings me to a short list of assumptions we tend to make regarding those kids who qualify as GATE.
1. GATE = honors: Don’t get mad at me, but GATE does not necessarily mean honors. I have a number of GATE students in my honors program, but I also have many in my mainstream program as well. A student might qualify as GATE, but that doesn’t mean they have all their responsibility ducks in a row. They might still struggle with follow-through, for instance. They might be so compulsive with their work that they never feel it’s worthy for submission. Conversely, they might not see the need to do the work being asked, or might be so bored with it that they find doing it a waste of time. It could also simply be a maturity issue.
Remember, emotional maturity is not what GATE stands for. To combat this, I try to be transparent with students about why an assignment has value. I also try to give students as much choice as possible in what they read or in how they show me what they’ve learned. I adapt assignments for certain students based on conversations we have. I adapt or even eliminate assignments if I can. After all, I want to ensure I will get the best from them.
2. As long as we’re challenging their brains, we’re servicing their needs: Sometimes their challenge is not in intellect, but in other traits. Working with GATE students can be, for a teacher, exciting and frustrating all at the same time. While this isn’t true of every GATE kid, many have issues with collaboration and empathy, in particular with other students whom they feel aren’t up to their standards. I’m not sure if this comes from those qualities that make them GATE or if they’re simply buying the publicity of being an outlier in many educational situations, but I’ve certainly seen it time and again.
Nevertheless, it’s really important that any GATE program works to develop not just the mind but also the heart. Have students work in a project-based learning unit that’s geared toward service learning. Have them mentor younger kids. But don’t avoid having them work with their own peers in a diverse group. The very fact that many GATE programs treat them as exceptions feeds the students’ inability to work with others well. Besides, everyone has something to teach others.
3. GATE students know how to speak up for themselves: GATE students don’t always know the right thing to say. Just because a student is in GATE doesn’t mean they can communicate eloquently. They are still a work in progress, as many students are. Help them learn how to speak sensitively.
Things don’t always come out right, and not all GATE kids understand the value of reflection. Help them script how to say no to a peer who won’t do their work. Help them to also choose wisely. Many GATE kids think they can do it all, but then collapse in the process. Time management might not be their strength. Help them tell you when it’s too much. Remind them that this is not a pride issue.
4. Gifted kids don’t need scaffolding: This couldn’t be further from the truth. They might need a different kind of scaffold, but they still need guidance and academic guardrails. For instance, in my writing class, many of my GATE students absolutely know how to write in complete sentences, but they continue to write in epic paragraphs, struggle with organization, or can’t function with a page limit that exists to help them get to their point.
I’m not trying to stifle their creative process—I’m trying to make sure they understand that more doesn’t always equal more. So I’ve developed scaffolds to help them rein themselves in and make more targeted decisions.
5. All their parents are über-involved: Just because a student has been identified as GATE does not mean that you can expect their parent to attend every meeting or to respond to your calls or emails. In other words, you still must be that student’s advocate. You still need to make sure you’re fighting for that kid, even if they have so many cards stacked in their favor. You will need to identify that child’s needs, strengths, and weaknesses.
Sometimes teachers tend to focus on the needs of at-risk and mainstream students and write off the needs of gifted ones. But the fact is that the GATE student before you might not have anyone in their corner at home. The GATE student before you might still be going through trauma at home, just as any other student might.
Misconceptions About All Student Groups
Just as I believe every educator should teach at-risk children during their career, I also believe that every educator should experience both the joys and challenges that go along with teaching GATE students, because it helps combat yet another myth: that they are somehow the easiest group to teach.
Sure, they can be exciting and creative and their questions can make a person really think. But, as with every designation, the misconception can quickly become the reputation. The fact is that a teacher needs to see through any label and into the needs of the student who bears it.
You don’t really need to have a high IQ in order to be considered a highly intelligent person. In fact, there’s a lot more to being smart than knowing a bunch of facts or being good at science and math. According to experts, many highly intelligent people don’t even realize how intelligent they really are.
“A highly intelligent person is one who is flexible in their thinking and can adapt to changes, they think before they speak or act, and they’re able to effectively manage their emotions.,” Dr. Catherine Jackson, licensed clinical psychologist and board certified neurotherapist, tells Bustle. “In short, they possess several different types of intelligence, including but not limited to intellectual, social, and emotional intelligence.”
Researchers have looked into the many different traits highly intelligent people have in common. For instance, a 2016 study published in the British Journal of Psychology, found that highly intelligent people actually prefer to be alone. It was found that smarter people tend to experience lower life satisfaction the more often they socialize with friends. According to evolutionary psychology, people evolved to be intelligent in order to solve problems. So those who are happier being alone were seen as highly intelligent because they have the ability to solve problems on their own without needing any help.
Rest assured, if you’re a social butterfly, it doesn’t mean that you’re not smart. You may possess other qualities that show off your intelligence, like having the ability to easily connect with others.
According to Jackson, highly intelligent people don’t often think of themselves like that. So here are some signs you’re highly intelligent, even if you don’t feel like it.
You’re Empathetic And Compassionate
“There’s a correlation between high emotional intelligence and high IQ in psychological assessments,” Christine Scott-Hudson, licensed psychotherapist and owner of Create Your Life Studio, tells Bustle. “We know that the higher a person scores in traits of empathy, the higher the person will score in traits of effective verbal comprehension.” In other words, empathy, which is part of emotional intelligence, and comprehension, which is part of cognitive intelligence, is directly linked. So if you lead with your heart, Scott-Hudson says, there’s a good chance that you also lead with your mind.
You’re Curious About The World
It’s easy to assume that highly intelligent people like to read. But being smart is not about having the ability to go through a number of books a day. It’s about having a curiosity about anything and everything. “Intelligent people engage their passions and ask questions like who, what, when, where, how, why, and what if,” Scott-Hudson says. They like learning about other people, cultures, animals, history, and the world at large. While having a love of reading isn’t necessarily a sign of intelligence, it does show that you like learning and you’re curious.
Thinking is hard work and asking tough questions can make you unpopular. So it’s no wonder that even clever people don’t always use their brains
Scene from The Big Bang Theory: ‘Having a high IQ score does not mean that someone is intelligent.’ Photograph: CBS/Everett/Rex
Scene from The Big Bang Theory: ‘Having a high IQ score does not mean that someone is intelligent.’ Photograph: CBS/Everett/Rex
Last modified on Wed 14 Feb 2018 21.13 GMT
W e all know smart people who do stupid things. At work we see people with brilliant minds make the most simple mistakes. At home we might live with someone who is intellectually gifted but also has no idea. We all have friends who have impressive IQs but lack basic common sense.
For more than a decade, Mats Alvesson and I have been studying smart organisations employing smarter people. We were constantly surprised by the ways that these intelligent people ended up doing the most unintelligent things. We found mature adults enthusiastically participating in leadership development workshops that wouldn’t be out of place in a pre-school class; executives who paid more attention to overhead slides than to careful analysis; senior officers in the armed forces who preferred to run rebranding exercises than military exercises; headteachers who were more interested in creating strategies than educating students; engineers who focused more on telling good news stories than solving problems; and healthcare workers who spent more time ticking boxes than caring for patients. No wonder so many of these intelligent people described their jobs as being dumb.
Being smart can come at a cost
While doing this research I realised that my own life was also blighted with stupidities. At work I would spend years writing a scientific paper that only a dozen people would read. I would set exams to test students on knowledge I knew they would forget as soon as they walked out of the examination room. I spent large chunks of my days sitting in meetings which everyone present knew were entirely pointless. My personal life was worse. I’m the kind of person who frequently ends up paying the “idiot taxes” levied on us by companies and governments for not thinking ahead.
Clearly I had a personal interest in trying to work out why I, and millions of others like me, could be so stupid so much of the time. After looking back at my own experiences and reading the rapidly growing body of work on why humans fail to think, my co-author and I started to come to some conclusions.
Having a high IQ score does not mean that someone is intelligent. IQ tests only capture analytical intelligence; this is the ability to notice patterns and solve analytical problems. Most standard IQ tests miss out two other aspects of human intelligence: creative and practical intelligence. Creative intelligence is our ability to deal with novel situations. Practical intelligence is our ability to get things done. For the first 20 years of life, people are rewarded for their analytical intelligence. Then we wonder why the “best and brightest” are uncreative and practically useless.
Most intelligent people make mental short cuts all the time. One of the most powerful is self-serving bias: we tend to think we are better than others. Most people think they are above average drivers. If you ask a class of students whether they are above the class average in intelligence, the vast majority of hands shoot up. Even when you ask people who are objectively among the worst in a certain skill, they tend to say they are above average. Not everyone can be above average – but we can all have the illusion that we are. We desperately cling to this illusion even when there is devastating evidence to the contrary. We collect all the information we can find to proveourselves right and ignore any information that proves us wrong. We feel good, but we overlook crucial facts. As a result the smartest people ignore the intelligence of others so they make themselves feel smarter.
“The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.”
Did you know that one in ten U.S adults suffer from depression? (This is according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.) How do I know? I was one of them. Starting in 2008, I suffered from depression for more than a year.
Many factors contributed to my depression. Of course loneliness and lack of social support were the obvious factors, but the major contributor was that I didn’t feel understood. It was a transition year for me, as I had left my corporate job to find more meaningful work that was aligned with my core values.
With the time off, I started feeling and sensing how much past pain and resentments I had stored inside my heart. It was like the quieter I got, the more I heard how much of what was inside me. I felt a huge void, as if I was a failure in more than one aspect of my life.
During my depression, I felt like my family members and friends did not understand me and lacked the time, patience, or skills to listen effectively. I felt suffocated, isolated, and invisible.
The universe has a weird way of working things out in life; things appear or show up for a reason. What appeared for me was a powerful listener. Though this person was a complete stranger to me, I felt connected from the very first day.
When they listened so patiently and intently to my words and feelings, both expressed and unexpressed, it felt so incredible that I didn’t want to stop sharing. I emptied my entire heart, all my fears, disappointments, and pain. I released all of it.
It was a pure, non-judgmental, patient, and empathetic space where I got to express and feel understood and validated. I didn’t get any solutions, advice, or answers. Instead, I got thought provoking questions, like “What does your soul really want?” “What makes you happy?” “What are you grateful for?” and “How can you forgive?”
It was this powerful listening that provided immeasurable healing. It was the first time in my life I actually felt like I had been heard, really understood—like what I had to say made sense. I felt important and visible again.
Like most depressed people, I lacked motivation and self-worth. Feeling understood is the most basic of human needs. During a time of depression it almost feels as critical as the need for air.
Being understood immediately shifted my perspective—from feeling invisible to feeling visible, from feeling down to feeling uplifted, from feeling contracted to feeling expanded, from feeling hopeless to hopeful.
It made me rise again and take care of my basic needs. Slowly but surely, I was able to walk out of the depression with the help of powerful listening, which has changed my life forever.
Have you ever been in a situation when you felt like your words weren’t being acknowledged? Like you were expressing yourself over and over again, yet you were being misunderstood? Like you were fighting so hard to get your point across, but it only got worse?
This often leaves you feeling frustrated and angry, with doubts about yourself. It can cause you to hang onto negative emotions and resentments, which could become the building blocks of depression.
“Effective listeners remember that ‘words have no meaning—people have meaning.’ The assignment of meaning to a term is an internal process; meaning comes from inside us. And although our experiences, knowledge and attitudes differ, we often misinterpret each other’s messages while under the illusion that a common understanding has been achieved.”
When someone listens to you well, it makes you feel accepted, understood, important, valued and validated. It gives you a voice to help you find yourself again. It reminds you that you are not invisible or alone.
Although we hear with our ears, many of us don’t necessarily listen to what is being said. We don’t get the chance to listen when we are too quickly reacting, judging, providing solutions, and disagreeing, rather than being a good sounding board.
We also don’t get to see a lot of examples of real listening because it is so rare.
So what does it take to be a good listener?
It starts by realizing how important and powerful this practice can be. Also, realize that it’s all about the other person. If you can put aside your own agenda, you’ll be able to focus on really hearing.
That means 80 percent of the time you listen patiently without interrupting, and the remaining 20 percent you reflect what you heard and ask questions to get more information about the situation.
When you are an active or mindful listener, you are fully present, not thinking about the past or the future. With full concentration, you can recognize that, as Bryan Bell wrote, “It is frequently not what the facts are, but what people think the facts are, which is truly important. There is benefit in learning what someone else’s concept of the reality of the situation is.”
Check in with yourself: Are you aware of your focus level? How long can you concentrate without your thoughts drifting off?
Good listeners not only concentrate on the words, they also look for nonverbal communication like pitch, tone, and rhythm. Look for the hidden feelings behind the words, and find what might inspire, excite, and free them up.
Be curious and ask questions to get more information, “How do you feel about this? How would you resolve this?” Paraphrase what you hear to confirm you understand.
“Many a man would rather you heard his story than granted his request.” Phillip Stanhope
The best listening skill is to be non-judgmental. When you judge someone when they’re talking, the other person often shuts down. Non-judgmental listening gives the other person a sense of freedom and acceptance.
Listening benefits the listener as well. It helps build trust, avoid misunderstanding, and above all it’s a true gift which you can share to uplift people.
Take the time to really listen today, and see how it changes other people’s lives—and yours.
Smart people aren’t just defined by their outrageously high scores on IQ tests.
They tend to share a bunch of other characteristics, like insatiable curiosity and a good sense of humor.
We took a look at a Quora thread where users have listed some common traits of highly intelligent people, and checked out the science to see if it backs them up.
Here are 11 qualities of super smart people:
They’re highly adaptable
Several Quora users noted that intelligent people are flexible and able to thrive in different settings. As Donna F. Hammett writes, intelligent people adapt by “showing what can be done regardless of the complications or restrictions placed upon them.”
Psychological research supports this idea. Intelligence depends on being able to change your own behaviors in order to cope more effectively with your environment, or make changes to the environment you’re in.
They understand how much they don’t know
The smartest folks are able to admit when they aren’t familiar with a particular concept. As Jim Winer writes, intelligent people “are not afraid to say: ‘I don’t know.’ If they don’t know it, they can learn it.”
Winer’s observation is backed up by a classic study by Justin Kruger and David Dunning, which found that the less intelligent you are, the more you overestimate your cognitive abilities.
In one experiment, for example, students who’d scored in the lowest quartile on a test adapted from the LSAT overestimated the number of questions they’d gotten right by nearly 50%. Meanwhile, those who’d scored in the top quartile slightly underestimated how many questions they’d gotten right.
They have insatiable curiosity
Albert Einstein reportedly said, “I have no special talents, I am only passionately curious.”
Or as Keyzurbur Alas puts it, “intelligent people let themselves become fascinated by things others take for granted.”
Research published in 2016 in the Journal of Individual Differences suggests that there’s a link between childhood intelligence and openness to experience — which encompasses intellectual curiosity — in adulthood.
Scientists followed thousands of people born in the UK for 50 years and learned that 11-year-olds who’d scored higher on an IQ test turned out to be more open to experience at 50.
They read a lot
Because they’re so curious, smart people are also inclined to be voracious readers, writes Cheikh Mbacke Diop.
Indeed, many of the world’s most successful people — Bill Gates and Oprah among them — say they educate themselves by reading anything they can get their hands on.
Smart people don’t close themselves off to new ideas or opportunities. Hammett writes that intelligent people are “willing to accept and consider other views with value and broad-mindedness,” and that they are “open to alternative solutions.”
Psychologists say that open-minded people — those who seek out alternate viewpoints and weigh the evidence fairly — tend to score higher on the SAT and on intelligence tests.
At the same time, smart people are careful about which ideas and perspectives they adopt.
“An intelligent mind has a strong aversion to accepting things on face value and therefore withholds belief until presented with ample evidence,” says Alas.
They like their own company
In a since-deleted answer, Richard He points out that highly intelligent people tend to be “very individualistic.”
Interestingly, 2016 research published in the British Journal of Psychology suggests that smarter people tend to derive less satisfaction than most people do from socializing with friends.
They have high self-control
Zoher Ali writes that smart people are able to overcome impulsiveness by “planning, clarifying goals, exploring alternative strategies and considering consequences before [they] begin.”
Scientists have found a link between self-control and intelligence. In one 2009 study published in the journal Psychological Science, participants had to choose between two financial rewards: a smaller payout immediately or a larger payout at a later date.
Results showed that participants who chose the larger payout at a later date — i.e., those who had more self-control — generally scored higher on intelligence tests.
The researchers behind that study say that one area of the brain — the anterior prefrontal cortex — might play a role in helping people solve tough problems and demonstrate self-control while working toward goals.
They’re really funny .
Advita Bihani points out that highly intelligent people tend to have a great sense of humor.
Scientists agree. One 2011 University of New Mexico study found that people who wrote funnier cartoon captions scored higher on measures of verbal intelligence. Another University of New Mexico study found that professional comedians scored higher than average on measures of verbal intelligence.
. and they appreciate dark humor
Elora Amber mentions research that suggests intelligent people have a “twisted sense of humor.”
Indeed, a 2017 study published in the journal Cognitive Processing found that people who score higher on tests of verbal and nonverbal intelligence are most likely to enjoy and understand “black humor.” (For example: “Here is the answering machine of the self-help association for Alzheimer patients. If you still remember your topic, please speak after the tone.”)
Those who appreciated the dark humor did not, however, appear to be in any way disturbed or aggressive.
First of all, BellyBelly believes that all children have a gift to share with the world and academic gifts are just one of the many, and certainly not the most important. This article is for those parents that are curious about the academic.
When you brought that perfect little bundle of joy home from the hospital, you just KNEW you had something special in your arms. A genius? A child prodigy? The next Mickey Mantle? As he grew into his own little person, it didn’t really matter how smart or talented he was, because he was perfect, to you, in every way. But what if you were right? What if there IS something special about your child? Here are 5 signs that your child might be gifted:
Signs Of A Gifted Child #1: Writes And Reads Early
Most kids will dabble in reading or writing before they go to school. The more parents work with kids, the better chance of them reading or writing at an early age. But some kids just seem to “get it”. They pick up on letters and word patterns, begin writing out actual letters rather than scribbles and they exhibit the early signs of reading such as holding the book correctly, reading from left to right across the page and using pictures to help them understand what the story is about. These kids are showing signs of high intelligence and should be encouraged to read and write often.
Signs Of A Gifted Child #2: Has A Wide Spectrum Of Interests And Excels In All Of Them
Gifted children are curious and interested in many things. They may be completely obsessed with space one month, but then begin memorising statistics from their favourite sport the next. It’s not unusual for a gifted child to maintain several interests at once and do exceptionally well in all of them. The gifted child loves to learn and will soak in new information with a passion.
Signs Of A Gifted Child #3: Has What Appears To Be A Photographic Memory
The gifted child absorbs and retains information that most people don’t. It’s not unusual for her to visit a museum and then return home and draw a complete diagram of something she saw there. It is also not uncommon for a gifted child to do very well in school from an early age, because she is able to memorise concepts very easily and won’t struggle with things like spelling, math, etc.
Signs Of A Gifted Child #4: Is Extremely Musically Or Artistically Talented
Kids who show unusual talent in music or art are typically highly intelligent. You might notice early on that your child has perfect pitch, seems to be able to play music from memory or can draw or paint much better than other children his age. Gifted children usually show an interest in art or music that other kids don’t have, such as looking at art books or listening to classical music.
Signs Of A Gifted Child #5: Has A Keen Eye For Details That Most Kids Miss
Gifted children pay attention to details. They notice things that other children their age do not. For example, he may ask a lot of questions after seeing a presentation or magic show, wanting to know exactly how things work. Generally, he knows all of the answers already, but he is highly curious and eager to discuss new things. He might remember details about where items are, how to get to a certain location or the steps to complete a difficult task with ease. Where most children tend to forget one thing and move on to the next, the gifted child will continue to talk about those things that caught his interest and want to know all that he can about it.
Signs Of A Gifted Child #6: Is Highly Critical Of Themselves
The child who is gifted may have very high expectations for himself in all areas. He is a perfectionist. Where most kids tend to be more concerned with what others are doing, the gifted child is focused on his own actions and performance. He will generally not turn in assignments until they have been done and redone, and he will be overly critical his musical talent or athletic ability.
Signs Of A Gifted Child #7: Understands Concepts Easily
Children who are gifted have the ability to understand complex concepts at an early age. They can think about problems in depth and come up with solutions. They can make connections between literature and real life at an early age, and they tend to use common sense more than the average child would.