The question we should be asking, however, is not when, how, or if we should tell a child that he/she is gifted but, rather, why are we telling that child?
My mom always told us that should would never be proud of us for just being smart because we were born that way -- we didn't do anything to be that way." Your child is gifted. Are you proud of your child for having brown hair? for being cute? for being short or tall? No. It's what they do with their gifts and talents that matter.
How do I know if my child is 'gifted?' What is gifted? In ten years, this is perhaps the most widely asked question I am asked. On a national level, there is no true 'definition of giftedness.' If you dig deep into research, you'll quickly see that no two researchers agree on this. Today, the most widely accepted definition of giftedness comes from Joseph Renzulli from the University of Connecticut. Err. I should say that he defines 'gifted behavior.' So, here's a brief overview of Renzulli's thinking:
Joseph Renzulli identifies three key characteristics that contribute to gifted behavior: above-average ability, task commitment and creativity. These three key characteristics are referred to as the "three-ring conception of giftedness." Renzulli makes the distinction that these three key characteristics, combined, result in demonstrated gifted behavior. This is notably different than a potentially gifted person. He also theorizes that an individual can demonstrate temporary gifted behavior. You can read his full research here.