In 1988, after some years of research work, George Betts and Maureen Neihart identified 6 personality types of gifted and talented children.
The classification is based on behavior, feelings, and special needs of the gifted children. They should be observed, understood and addressed by the parents, in order for the child to develop smoothly and reach his or her full potential.
Successful Gifted Child Personality Type
These children are usually successful academically, and identified as gifted at school. They are high achievers and perfectionists who seek for other people’s approval. The problem, however, is that with time they often get bored and devote minimum effort to achieving. At home these gifted children need independence and freedom of choice, as well as time for personal interests, and risk taking experiences.
Challenging Gifted Child Personality Type
This personality type includes very creative, but often frustrated or bored, gifted children. They question the systems around them and are often rebellious because their abilities are unrecognized. Impatient, direct, and competitive, such children have low self-esteem. They need acceptance, understanding, and advocacy from the parents. Family activities and positive examples of behavior are what the family should provide for such gifted children.
Underground Gifted Children Personality Type
Many of such children are never identified as gifted since they are usually quiet and insecure. They often hide their talents, resist challenges, and drop out of gifted school programs because of their shyness. These gifted children should be supported at home, and be given freedom to choose and to spend time with their friends of the same age. Ideally, parents should provide them with gifted role models of life-long learning.
Dropout Gifted Child Personality Type
These gifted children are angry and depressed because the school system does not recognize their abilities, and does not address their special educational needs. That is why they resist the system by refusing to complete school assignments or to attend school. Being considered average or below average, they have poor self-esteem, are defensive and self abusive. Professional counseling is recommended for such children.
Double-labeled Gifted Child Personality Type
This type of gifted child is often unrecognized because these children have a physical, emotional or learning disability. Adults fail to notice giftedness due to being focused on the areas where the child is less able. Parents of such children should provide them with recognition of their abilities, risk-taking opportunities, advocacy, and family activities to challenge the child. Family counseling may also be a good option.
Autonomous Gifted Child Personality Type
These are self-confident and independent children that are successful academically, motivated, goal-oriented, and responsible. At home, such gifted children need family support, advocacy, family activities and opportunities related to their interests. They should be allowed to have friends of all ages, and have no time or space restrictions.
Each subtype of giftedness can be strongly pronounced in one personality. At the same time, combinations are possible since the subtypes are not mutually exclusive. So, a gifted or talented child may possess the characteristics of more than one type of giftedness.
The personality type may change with time as the child grows and develops. Therefore, the parents should be attentive to their gifted children in order to provide timely support and advocacy.
Autonomous and successful personality types of a gifted child are usually easy to recognize and deal with. The achievements of these children cannot be unnoticed. Challenging, underground, double-labeled and dropout personalities of gifted children require special attention. They should be recognized as early as possible for the parents to know what measures should be taken to address all the special needs of such children.
Betts, George, and Maureen Neihart. “Profiles of the gifted and talented”. Gifted Child Quarterly 32.2 (1988): 248-253.