Gifted children who are highly competitive may display aggression towards other children.

Early Childhood Giftedness & Aggressive Behavior

by Melody Hughes

Parents may notice early during the toddler stage that their child is not quite like the other children. The toddler may be highly inquisitive, very curious and an incredibly fast learner. However, these traits may soon be overshadowed by tantrums and other aggressive behavior. Gifted children can be both intense about learning new things and intense emotionally which may lead to aggression. Often recognizing the cause of the aggressive behavior can help parents and teachers plan interventions to curb childhood aggression.

Gifted Characteristics

Gifted children exhibit various characteristics. Some typical characteristics that may lead to aggressive behavior include sensitivity, competitiveness and perfectionism. Also, some gifted children routinely question authority. Gifted children may also have unrealistic expectations of other people and they may have difficulty accepting any criticism.

Twice Exceptional Children

Some gifted children also have learning disabilities such as ADHD or an autism-spectrum disorder. Children with ADHD may be hyperactive and/or impulsive, which may lead to acting out aggressively before considering the consequences. Also, ADHD is often characterized by a delay in social and emotional immaturity. Other possible co-existing disabilities include dyslexia, dysgraphia, oppositional defiant disorder and sensory integration disorders. Twice exceptional children may be particularly frustrated because of the challenges presented by a co-existing disability that prevents them from nurturing their giftedness.


Highly gifted children who display aggressive behaviors may be labeled as only having ADHD or another disorder such as ODD. When misbehavior overshadows a child's giftedness, parents should work with teachers and behavioral specialists to determine behavioral interventions that will decrease aggressive behaviors. Also, parents should seek to correctly identify what conditions may be affecting the child.


Parents should avoid making their gifted child feel overwhelmed by scheduling too many activities or by putting too much pressure on them to succeed. Also, both parents and teachers should challenge gifted children to prevent boredom from resulting in misbehavior. Gifted children may exhibit gaps between their cognitive abilities and their social and/or emotional intelligence. For this reason, some gifted children may need social skills instruction.

About the Author

Based in Laurel, Miss., Melody Morgan Hughes covers topics related to education, money and health. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English education from the University of Southern Mississippi, a Master of Education from William Carey University and a Master of Education from Nova Southeastern University.

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