Verbal Ability with Gifted Children

Feel like you live with a lawyer or a trained police negotiator?  Or that all of a sudden you have backed down or caved in to a request without realizing it?

One of my favorite characteristics of gifted children is their ability with words. It is not a strength of mine but I love hearing the thoughts and ideas of these students.


I love this explanation and negative effects about this trait from Amend Psychological: “Parents and others see an unusual use of language early on in a child’s development. Precocious language development takes different forms, and many gifted children have special language abilities. They can be avid storytellers, telling their tales with rich details and expressive language. Gifted children often talk sooner than other children their age, know more words, use bigger words, and insist on precise words.”

Unfortunately this trait is not always a positive one for these children. 

“Verbal ability can also make kids stand apart from the crowd, and verbally gifted children sometimes have trouble with classmates and friends because their language highlights their differences. They may intimidate others with their vocabulary or get frustrated when other kids do not understand what they are saying. As a result, playmates and age peers may label gifted kids as weird or strange, and make them the target of teasing or bullying. This can undoubtedly have damaging effects.”

At home, these children can often be argumentative, use language to hurt siblings or be very persuasive. It can sometimes feel like you are constantly negotiating with a small adult. Carol Bainbridge has written an article for parents on How to (not) Argue with Gifted Children.  There are some good tips for parents.

Amend Psychology also has some great ideas on their website:

Parents and teachers do make a difference in the lives of the gifted children they know. Regarding language use, here are a few tips others have used with success.

    • Help gifted kids learn not to show off and how to use their verbal skills to build others up rather than cut them down.
    • Model positive language use and encourage your child’s verbal skills by incorporating new words into your everyday language.
    • Try looking up a new word in the dictionary every week and using this word as frequently as possible throughout the next seven days.
    • Play games such as Scrabble, Balderdash, and Boggle. These are great ways to build relationships as well as language skills. Crossword puzzles are also great.
    • Play word games and use puns with your children.
    • Show an interest in your child’s reading. Encourage reading and, of course, model the necessity and benefits of reading. Whether it is a newspaper, instruction booklet, novel, children’s story, or textbook, READ!

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