You have surely heard of precocious children, or “zebra” children. If the first thing that defines precocious or “High Intellectual Potential” children is their IQ, children called “zebras” do not always have an extraordinary IQ, but have all the emotional characteristics of a child. precocious: hypersensitivity, high sense of justice, creativity, great maturity, boredom, etc. An immense potential to be exploited, but not easy for parents! Not to mention that many zebra children suffer from their difference. The book “My child thinks too much – How to support him in his overefficiency”, by Christel Petitcollin, is very useful on the subject!
Detected early and well supported, the precocious child or little zebra has, above all, immense wealth and great potential to exploit! To better understand them, to give parents the keys to best help their little zebras to make their difference a strength, we interviewed Anne Widehem, coach, herself precocious, mother of two precocious children, and author of the book ” I am not an ass, I am a zebra! ” (ed. Kiwi).
The characteristics of a precocious child
To be able to support a precocious child, it is still necessary to understand it. But then, what is a “zebra”?
An “extraordinary” intelligence
For precocity to be proven, the child must first have passed a IQ test under standardized conditions at a clinical psychologist. These are the famous statistical tests of Wechsler, carried out according to the age of the child: WPPSI-R (2 years and 11 months to 7 years and 3 months), WISC V (6 to 16 years and 9 months) and WAIS III (from 16 years old).
We speak of a gifted child or giftedness when the intelligence quotient is equal to or greater than 130.
But what must be understood above all is that an intellectually precocious child (or EIP) don’t reason in the same way than another child. He has a global, intuitive reasoning. It is also said that he has a tree thought, which analyzes all possibilities at the same time, not linear thinking.
“Imagine a drawer unit,” explains Anne Widehem. A precocious child will see all the under-drawers, under-under-drawers, under-under-under-drawers, etc. “.
It also explains that “if you ask a very simple question to a zebra, it might be answer completely beside, because he will seek subtlety where there is none! “. Suddenly, this “intellectual precocity” can put the child in school failure, not because of his aptitudes, but rather of a different cognitive functioning.
Once again we should not stop at the IQ of our children either, to identify if this one functions emotionally like a child which one calls “zebra”.
A little zebra learns and understands very quickly, and has a elephant memory !
Very often, it is children who do everything earlier than the average: walk, dress, read … And concerning language, if they do not necessarily speak earlier than the others. However, as soon as they start to speak, their language is very quickly developed, with a rich vocabulary : they do not go through the “talk-baby” stage.
Often, they also learn to read before the “normal” age (5-6 years) and as soon as they can read, they devour books!
And yes ! Zebras are curious about everything and have an immense thirst for learning, which needs to be fed. Very early on, they are interested in subjects which are not necessarily their age: prehistory (ah, dinosaurs!), Space, death … They are “jack-of-all-trades” children who pass quickly from one subject to another, who constantly ask “why?” “And do not satisfy the” because it is like that! “?. Besides, many of them can’t stand boredom.
The maturity of reasoning
“Precocious children have maturity of reasoning ahead of their age, with a great capacity for deduction ”, explains Anne Widehem. Which explains why they enjoy the company of adults so much, who do not always understand this interest …
A very developed humor
Fairly early on, the little zebras show humor and use – to good effect – the second degree… What sometimes passes for insolence while it is simply a way of distancing reality.
No, children with high potential are not just little nerds with a passion for numbers ?. They are also very creative and often gifted for the visual arts or even music… real artists!
If this painting seems at first glance idyllic, there is however the other side of the coin.
Because all these faculties can make the zebras vulnerable. Their very great lucidity, their feeling out of place in relation to others, their so special operating mode often generates anxiety and sometimes a lack of self-confidence.
In addition, as Anne explains, “in precocious children, everything is exacerbated: they feel and experience a thousand might! “. And that is not always easy. Suddenly, the difficulties which all children are confronted with can be all the more pronounced in precocious children.
The challenges facing young children
Among the common points that we meet with them, we often find:
“Even more than other children, zebras experience real emotional storms »Emphasizes Anne. They have trouble dealing with their own emotions, but are also very sensitive to those of others: they are real sponges.
Precocious children also frequently have hyperesthesia, that is to say one (or more) very developed senses (touch, hearing, smell, etc.). They can then overreact to certain noises, certain smells, or quite simply to a itchy sweater! See also our article Hypersensitive child: how to identify it, and how to support it?
Another point common to many children with high intellectual potential (HPI) is the gap between, on the one hand, their early intellectual development, and on the other their dpsychomotor development, emotional or relational, normal. They can therefore be clumsy in some areas, which they live with difficulty and can lead them to give up.
In addition, there is often a tendency to treat them like children who are older than they are.
” It’s not fair ! »: Zebras say this phrase very often! Because they have an extremely strong sense of fairness. Or rather, he notices even more than others, situations that are not fair … Whether for themselves or for others, they do not support injustice or misunderstood rules.
“Precocious children are sometimes of a such requirement with themselves that they are often null and are not at all aware of their potential! »Says Anne. A feeling of not being up to the task that can lead to procrastination: they would rather give up than be faced with a difficulty that they cannot resolve quickly.
If he is capable of great concentration when a subject interests him, as soon as he is bored, a zebra escapes by thought (Like all children after all, but more pronounced). One can have the impression that he is listening when in fact, he is elsewhere! It can be frowned upon or tiring for those around them, explains Anne.
Loneliness and lack of self-confidence
Because they are “different”, because their behaviors surprise or annoy, some precocious children may struggling to bond and fit in in a group of children of their own age, from whom they then feel rejected.
Moreover, if you want to help your child to have more self-confidence, do not hesitate to leave your e-mail below to receive (free of charge) all the advice from CPMHK in the “SELF-CONFIDENCE” PACK.
Fortunately, all of this is not inevitable! Because, well accompanied, a small zebra is above all a great treasure!
Ideas to support your precocious child
As parents, what can you do on a daily basis to help your precocious child to flourish and to develop his immense potential while being happy? Finally, the same as with all children… 🙂 Here are some ideas (not exhaustive!).
Listening and compassion
For Anne Widehem, these are the two main keys: “Above all, a precocious child needs feel supported and including by his parents. So it’s not just a matter of listening to it with a distracted ear. We must show that we are attentive to what he is going through and help him find concrete solutions to feel better. If we do that, we are doing 90% of the way! “.
If necessary, parents can get help, especially by other High Potential people or by specialized psychologists, recommends Anne.
Welcome their emotions and help them develop their self-confidence
This is the whole point of Anne’s book. Each chapter deals with an emotion (joy, sadness, helplessness …) for help the little zebras to formulate their feelings. He accompanies him for learn to deal with this emotion in a playful and benevolent way to, in the end, regain self-confidence and self-esteem. After a description of the emotion and a short story (inspired by Anne’s personal story), the child is invited to do little exercises, for example :
- write or draw the reasons for his sadness and attach them to a balloon that he will let fly in the air;
- cut out in magazines what makes him want and imagine realizing his dreams;
or even shout in front of a mirror “I am fantastic and I recognize it”!
Creativity is one of the great strengths of many children (and often even more present in precocious children). It allowsexpress their talent, but also, very often, it serves asoutlet for their emotions. So do not hesitate to encourage it. And this can take very different forms: plastic arts, music, cooking, gardening, various games… Little zebras love to have fun!
A book to support precocious children: “I am not an ass, I am a zebra!”
“I conceived this book as a therapeutic tool for the use of precocious children, but also of their parents, who are often destitute, to promote self-confidence and self-esteem. I wanted to pass on what I learned to many people, to make as many people as possible happy! “.
Simple to use, easy to access, it reminds us that to be happy, we must above all know ourselves and love ourselves as we are. ?