Is My Child Gifted? Part Four: Complex Thinking

If your child gets lost in his head, causing inattention in school and then bad grades, this may be a better indicator of giftedness than more obvious signs. Complex thinking is common among gifted children, and it can become a liability because of the plethora of choices it presents.

What’s most interesting to think about? How do I choose among the dozens of ideas whispering at me. And if I ever succeed in choosing one, what do I do when that one idea multiplies itself into so many avenues that I can’t possibly explore them all?

No wonder the minds of our most gifted children wander. No wonder we can’t pull them back. No wonder bad grades tell us little or nothing of the truth.


About Rebecca Hein

Author of A Case Of Brilliance, her memoir of her discovery that her two children are profoundly gifted
This entry was posted in Complex thinking, Gifted Children, High Intelligence, Identifying Gifted Children, Underachievement and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Is My Child Gifted? Part Four: Complex Thinking

  1. plangtree52 says:

    Thank you so much for this post!!! My 3.5 year old is a dreamer, he is in his head much of thhe time at school. One of his teachers understands and the other thinks he has a learning disability
    And couldn’t possibly be gifted. DS shows many of the signs of being PG., extreme empathy,
    Sensitivities, obsessions, long attention span etc. He also can read almost anything, yesterday
    He read Tropheus Dubois Cichlids on a fish tank at the pet store. He finished his piano book in
    Half the time it usually takes a six year old with hardly any practice.

    I found your blog when I really needed to hear that very gifted children often daydream.



    • Rebecca Hein says:

      Yes, daydreaming is a legitimate form of thinking, although our culture doesn’t seem to understand this. Also not generally known is that highly gifted & creative children are LESS likely to do well in school precisely because they’re lost in their heads so much of the time. They just have so much to think about.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment on this post.


  2. basil says:

    hi rebecca im a 17 yrs old highschool student.i read your article and i wanted to know if i am considered a complex thinker and if yes how i should take advanatge of some teachers have told me in personal that im really clever and recently the teacher im doing mathematic and physics told me that i think very complex and it results of things getting more difficult.but at mathematics and physics although i feel like i know almost everything but in exams or tests i cant solve and not only in these two cases sometimes and at home at when i see the answer it seemed to be simple also i cant concentrate easy.i have a problem with this 2 subjects i would say im good and bad at the same time.also i read about daydreaming on the above comment and yes i daydream a lot(i think).what do you think is it bad or good if i am a complex thinker?


    • Rebecca Hein says:

      Basil, thank you for this interesting comment. It does sound like you are a complex thinker. As to whether or not it’s bad or good: the complex brain needs some time and freedom to feel that it can indulge in all the possibilities. Obviously, during a test or a homework session isn’t the best time for this.

      So you need to find time to play with math and physics concepts when there are no expected outcomes and no rules about how you use your brain. I’d say that complex thinking is “bad” if it slows you down to the point where you get so lost in it that you can’t do your work. It’s good if you can let it run away with you sometimes so that the rest of the time you can enjoy your wealth of good ideas.


  3. basil says:

    thats actually pretty cool thanks for your info rebecca 😀


  4. basil says:

    hey rebecca sorry for bothering you again, but i would like to know if there is a possible way to help me.As a complex thinker i can never do well on test on mathematics or physics im not a bad student i learn failry fast and easy but when it comes to tests i just cant do well .I wrote a test on physics the previous week which contained 4 question and were about thinking not exactly knowing things from book and the other exercise was a problem which i solved very easy.I could have done very well and get 18 or even 20 out of 20 but thinking complex and things that you werent supposed to think on that question i will probably get 14 /20 😦 .Iit doesnt matter what i do i will never do well on exams when it comes to physics and especially maths i want to get good grades at school but i just cant answer right and what is strange when they show me how it was solved even not the whole problem just a tip it would seem very easy for me.My home teacher tells me all the time that im thinking very complex and i shouldnt be doing that and that the answer is always easier than what i think .I dont know what to do :(((


    • Rebecca Hein says:

      Dear Basil,

      I used to have the same problem with my writing. I’d try to create a clear, coherent piece, and my mind would take off in all directions and refuse to be governed.

      My cure–which I think is worth a try for you–was to freely indulge that urge of my mind to wander off into all the possibilities. In writing, that generally means lots and lots of “freewriting”–unstructured, free-flowing writing where there are no rules of content or quality.

      If I do enough freewriting, my complex thinking does not impede my writing. So I guess the math and physics equivalent would be lots and lots of rule-free, undirected wondering while trying to solve a given problem like the ones you have to work for tests. In those rule-free sessions, if your mind wants to wander off and conetemplate related (or unrelated) things, let it. Indulge it to the full.

      Probably you’d have to do this on a regular basis and for many months until that complex-thinking urge is satisfied. It’s a hungry tiger that has to be fed. So it would be a long-term experiment.

      I hope this helps.

      Rebecca Hein


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