Gifted Children are Complicated

Gifted children are complicated.

I have been reading some interesting stuff about the personality traits of gifted students. I came across a chapter on it, (Betts, G.T. & Neihart, M. (1988). Profiles of the gifted and talented. Gifted Child Quarterly, 32(2), 248–253.) I thought about my students. I can see some of the personality traits that Betts and Neihart discuss in this article in my classroom, and in my home. Now, I know that it is an old article, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the information is not out dated.

Editor’s Note: (Thanks to Margaret Sutherland (@tanzania8) for giveing me the 2010 updated version of Betts and Neihart Matrix.)

6 Different Personality Traits

Type 1: The successful

These students are the typical gifted students. They demonstrate the needs, behavior, and feelings of a typical gifted student. These students would be the high achievers in any classroom. These students are well liked by their peers and teachers. These students have figured out the system of school. They know what to do with little effort, but show success. They go through the motions of school. These students have a dependence on teachers and parents. They have no autonomy.

What makes these students so complicated is the fact they don’t know they have deficiencies because of all the praise they get from teachers. These students will mostly likely be under archiver adults. They don’t have the skills, or desire to be a life long learner. They are adjusted to society, but not how much it changes.

Type 2: The Creative

These students are divergent learners. They are creative, sarcastic, and sometimes obstinate. These students are classified as “challenger” because they will challenge parents and teachers. They don’t conform to the system of school nor have they figured out how to make the system work for them, unlike Type 1 students.

These students are frustrated because they feel their talents and abilities are not noticed by teachers. These are the students who suffer from low-self esteem. They don’t receive many rewards or honors. Sometimes they are not included with their friends because of the challenges they bring to the group.

What makes these students so complicated is the fact they can be spontaneous and fun to be around which draws peers to their side. That same spontaneous behavior that draws students also can be disruptive in the classroom to students who do want to learn.

Type 2 students see them selves as negative and full conflict. Many students who are classified as type 2 students are later found to be drop-outs by the time they are in high school.

Type 3: The Underground 

These students hide their giftedness. Most of the time, in middle school these students are females. By high school some males fall into this category because of the pressure to pursue sports. By in large this group is female who hide their gifts and talents to fit in with the non-gifted crowd. These girls are anxious and insecure. They begin this change in middle school, and pushing these students can make them abandon their talents and gifts even more.

What makes these students so complicated is the fact they have gifts and talents, and they purposely choose to ignore those just to fit in. They change who they are to be something they are not.

Type 4: The At-Risk

Type 4 students are typically angry. They are angry at the school, teachers, and parents because they feel like they have failed them. These students struggle with the feeling of being rejected. They will show their feeling of being rejected through anger, depression, and sometimes being withdrawn.

These students were identified as gifted late, probably in high school, and because of that, traditional methods of instruction won’t work. These students will need a strong adult who they can trust. They will also need group and one-to-one counseling.

Type 5: The Twice/Multi Exceptional

The students in this group are emotionally, physically or have a learning disablility. These students can be twice-exceptional, or may have dyslexia. These students are gifted, but they don’t show it, or schools don’t recognize it. Sometimes these students are refered to remedial labs for additional help.

Sometimes these students are frustrated, angry, and isolated. These students struggle with low self-esteem, and have a hard time of understanding their inability to perform well in school. These students manage some of that anger by saying theat a subject or activity they don’t do well in is “boring” or “stupid”.

Type 6: The Autonomous Learner

The students who fall into this category are gifted students who like to learn on their own. This would be more commonly seen at home. These students have mastered the school system, and have figured out how to use it to make more opportunities for themselves, unlike Type 1 learners.

These students except who they are. They push themselves to achieve. They are confident to make their own goals, and educational programs. They are risk takers. These students know they can change their own lives, and don’t wait for others to lead them to do it. They are able to express themselves, take ownership of their education, and create their own goals, and direct their own path.

What type of students do you see in your classroom? What about your own gifted children at home? I have seen most of these in my classroom. I have a few of my own gifted children who fall into a few of these categories. I love this article, just for the fact that it created patterns of characteristics as a guide. I see this information as a way to identify these students so we can create the right opportunities for these students. We don’t want to have any drop-outs. I want to see more and more gifted students succeed, and male a huge impact for society as a whole.

What do you think? Do you think gifted children are complicated?





10 thoughts on “Gifted Children are Complicated

  1. Jen

    My son seems mostly to fit type 1 though I am encouraging him to become more type 6. He’s in 3rd grade, weve got time 😉
    I was/am type 2 and 3. The creative underground. It was only in discovering my own son’s giftedness (and accepting it) that in a great roar all those years condensed into one brilliant point of perception and understanding. That 8th grade science teacher wasn’t just trying to get me to be a better student, he saw my sleeping dragon and tried to wake it up.

  2. Gina Bell

    Gifted children for the most part are largely misunderstood. We need to be open to actively not judge but seek to understand what motivates, inspires and drives each and every gifted individual. Gifted Individuals experience life at deeper levels, the way they think and the way they feel. When they can see that we understand them, we give them the liberty of being themselves whether that be at school, in their community or in the workplace.

    1. gifteddaisy

      Yes! I’m just starting a blog from my own perspective as a gifted student Gina. What’s also needed is parental support. My parents have helped in so many ways and trust me, I appreciate whole heartedly the help I’ve gotten! I also very much appreciate all the teachers and programs; especially after a bout of nastiness that came from inside the program during middle school. Support, support, support. That’s the magic word. Gifted children need to know they are different. That they are perfectly different, just like everybody else. And different is good. Also, education to teach all teachers what giftedness is is needed. The lack of understanding from them can really tear down the gifted community, if I may call it that. And I love what you pointed out. Just let gifted kids be themselves.

  3. Mel

    I agree. Gifted children are complicated. My son 8 year old fits into Type 1. He is well liked by his teachers and peers. I find he likes to challenge the status quo at home and his mind is constantly thinking. I sometimes wonder whether he finds school interesting as up until this year there have been no real challenges but he has a real love of reading so has skipped ahead that way. He likes to read books that are probably aimed at much older children but is happy to lose himself in a book which is a wonderful thing.

  4. rdrewd

    The list worries me in that it doesn’t seem to distinguish gifted children from “ordinary” children. Seems that every child can fit one of those categories, but surely you don’t want to argue that everybody is gifted (and everyone gets a trophy).

  5. Tricia

    Yep! The more “gifts” a child has, the more multi-faceted their needs seem to be. In reading this list, it seems that gifted children aren’t always just one of these. There is an ebb and flow as they mature and figure out how to self-regulate and self-advocate. The key to successfully supporting these complex learners is to address their needs individually and get to the core of any obstacles that are holding them back from thriving and to help them recognize their own strengths and weaknesses, providing coaching in the skills that will help them move forward.

  6. Pingback: The Tears of a Teacher | Ramblings of a Gifted Teacher

  7. Jacinta

    “Now, I know that it is an old article, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the information is not out dated.” Do you mean “Now, I know that it is an old article, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the information is out dated.” ?

  8. Pingback: Gifted, Talented and Complicated - Oak Crest Academy

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