What Is High Intellectual Capacity in Children?

What Is High Intellectual Capacity in Children?

Last update: 27 March, 2018

Are you aware of the signs of high intellectual capacity in children? Have you ever suspected that your child may have above average intelligence? 

As mothers, we all tend to be a bit biased when evaluating our child’s abilities. But what if your child really does have a special gift?

Below we’ll tell you how to know if a child has high intellectual capacities. We’ll also offer advice on how to guide and educate them throughout their development.

And most importantly, we’ll offer tips to keep your child from getting bored or unmotivated, and help them enjoy the company of others.

What is high intellectual capacity?

High intellectual capacity refers to intellectual giftedness, talent and intellectual precocity. Together, these factors constitute a higher than average intelligence quotient (IQ) of 130 or above.

Intellectually gifted children make up 2% of the population. This means they have an intelligence that is higher than the remaining 98%.

The World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that an IQ of 130 or higher is a reflection of high intellectual capacity.

One characteristic that tends to stand out in individuals with high intellectual ability is creativity. 

They possess a great level of imagination, making them very versatile people. They also have great initiative and are able to make effective decisions.

Some important differences

  • People with intellectual giftedness are those with high intellectual abilities that define the maximum of human intelligence. This explains their giftedness.
  • Talented individuals have a higher point level in one or various aptitudes. However, their score in other areas is similar to that of the general population.
  • Intellectual precocity refers to children who acquire and display knowledge at an earlier age than others. For example, children who learn to speak, put together phrases and hold a conversation before age two.
High Intellectual Capacity in Children: What is it and how is it detected?

How can I tell if my child has high intellectual capacity?

High intellectual capacity is determined by a complete evaluation that examines the following aspects in detail:

  • Life story
  • Emotional state
  • Creativity
  • Intelligence quotient

Signs of high intellectual capacity

Of course, every individual develops at his or her own pace. But it’s possible to establish some general signs during different stages of development.

Below we’ll explain these signs:

High intellectual capacity in babies

  • Demand more of their parents’ attention.
  • Present psychomotor coordination before one month of age. For example, they can hold their heads up firmly.
  • During the second month of life they can vocalize more than one sound.
  • They learn to say their first word at 5 months of age.
  • At 6 months, they can already identify if someone calls them by name.

High intellectual capacity in children

As the child grows, various aptitudes will stand out and catch your attention. At first, this may seem disconcerting, but little by little you’ll start to understand why.

These aptitudes will also be very different from those of other children, providing very important clues .

During early infancy, children are usually not evaluated by a professional. Therefore, parents don’t understand why their child is so different from others.

It’s important to keep one thing in mind: The emotional world of these children.

Children with high intellectual capacities tend to live out their emotions with high intensity. Their reactions may seem exaggerated or disconcerting for most of the people around them.

High Intellectual Capacity in Children: What is it and how is it detected?

Main characteristics

  • They have a great level of concentration.
  • Children with high intellectual capacities are competitive, perfectionists, and demanding of themselves.
  • They have a difficult time tolerating frustration and managing their anger correctly.
  • These children tend to break away from the norm. This isn’t because the child desires to be disobedient. Rather, these children won’t follow rules or guidelines that seem illogical or without a good explanation. Therefore, it’s important to maintain good communication and set clear limits.
  • Hypersensitivity in at least 1 of the 5 senses. This explains why they’re often bothered by certain smells or loud music. They may complain about the way certain clothing feels, or ask for the lights to be turned down, for example.
  • Psychomotor hypersensitivity. These children seem to have an above average energy level. They’re hard to wear out and are in constant movement. This is their way of getting rid of tension. This trait should not be confused with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

High intellectual capacity in teens

The characteristics of high intellectual capacity appear before adolescence. 

However, some cases go undetected during childhood. The characteristics of high intellectual capacity in teens are the following:

  • A tendency to constantly question and bring up existential issues. For example: Death, religion, life, etc.
  • These teens tend to question authority and norms. They have a heightened ability to see loopholes or inconsistencies. This makes it harder for them to be “obedient” without giving their opinion.
  • They have excellent memoryboth visual and audio.
  • They often dislike interacting with others their own age, simply because they get bored. They’ll feel a gap between themselves and others. This may cause them to become easily frustrated, as they fail to relate to the thoughts of their peers.
  • They tend to adopt a cultured vocabulary, which they’ll seek to enrich every day. They have a great preference for precision. In other words, they enjoy using just the right word at just the right moment.

Like all individuals, children with high intellectual capacities need unconditional love and support. 

This is the most important thing you need to know. We need to guide them so they can live freely in society and enjoy life.

We should teach our children to have fun, relax, and use tact in their dealings with others.

And we should avoid allowing them to become individuals with a superiority complex or acting condescending towards others. These attitudes, of course, will get them nowhere.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Barragán, M. C. (2009). Identificación del alumnado con altas capacidades intelectuales. Revista Digital Innovación y Experiencias Educativas25, 1-15.
  • Gálvez, J. M. (2000). Alumnos precoces, superdotados y de altas capacidades. Ministerio de Educación.
  • Sánchez, C. (2006). Principales modelos de superdotación y talentos. Universidad de Murcia, Departamento de Métodos de Investigación y Diagnóstico en Educación, España.
  • Sastre-Riba, S. (2008). Niños con altas capacidades y su funcionamiento cognitivo diferencial. Rev Neurol, 41(Supl 1), S11-6. http://www.carei.es/archivos_materiales/AACC.pdf
  • Tourón, J. & Reyero, M. (2001). La identificación de alumnos de alta capacidad. Bordón, 54 (2), 311-338.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.