Dealing with the 'clever' label - anyone with older / secondary age dc

(18 Posts)
EmmaGoldmanSachs Wed 20-Nov-13 09:29:25

I'm struggling with how to express this, but wondered if anyone with older dc could help. DD's mentioned to me a couple of times 'everyone says I'm very clever' and I can see that she's finding it (a) awkward and (b) a bit hard to know how to deal with.

I was also round at a friend's house yesterday - her dd is a friend of mine, same year at school etc. Friend passed some jokey remark about something I'd said 'you're always so clever' and her dd made a slightly pointed comment 'like X, she's so clever'.

I think it's something that's never really been an issue before - but now she's moved into yr 7 / secondary all of a sudden they have end of module tests with marks discussed in class, peer marking of books etc and it has become more tricky.

Obviously it is balanced out by all the things she's rubbish at - I suspect dd would much rather not be invariably last by miles in her chosen sport and be a bit more average in her maths tests - but others don't necessarily see that!

ercoldesk Wed 20-Nov-13 09:39:03

Like you say, she great in some subject less so in others. DD2 is finding the sudden obsession with grades etc in Y7 tough too. It helps her that she's rubbish at netball, and football, but ok at rowing, and top sets for the academic subjects. We've pointed out that that makes her balanced as a person, that she should be proud of the work she's done well in, and that so long as she has plenty of ways of keeping fit and strong (she does, just not school PE subjects) she should be happy.

We're really having to stress the balance thing. DD1 has just changed schools, to a larger, and really academic one, and having been top of her year in everything at her old school, is in the 2nd of 10 sets for one subject. She is finding that adjustment really hard - having always been surrounded by people/friends who constantly banged on about her "being clever".

For us, it works by balancing the brilliant at some things, less brilliant at others. It is a day by day balancing act though - they both need reminding regularly. Especially DD2, who is still a little exhausted by the move up to secondary, and so more fragile.

EmmaGoldmanSachs Wed 20-Nov-13 09:52:42

It is such a balancing act, isn't it. In some ways I think it is quite good for dd to be obviously good at things, if that makes sense - there are a lot of things she is pretty rubbish at (but would like to do well) and she does feel it.

I think being known as 'great at maths' would be fine and make her very happy, if that makes sense, since she loves it and knows she works hard. But the generic 'clever' label is a bit trickier.

DD went for the less academic over the large pressurised school, for a lot of good reasons, and I guess this is just one of the down sides.

ppeatfruit Wed 20-Nov-13 10:30:00

Our DS is G & T (now 25) he's made his own way in life (he never settled well in schools and we tried them all) .

IMO and E there are some people who can cope with others being different (physically and mentally) and there are plenty who are jealous and will find some way of belittling them .I also think that you can talk to yr DD about this a lot to give her the right perspective. Though of course it's not easy and some ados want to 'fit in' regardless.

lljkk Wed 20-Nov-13 11:30:47

I've had a bit of this with DD. I guess with time she's getting used to it.

EmmaGoldmanSachs Wed 20-Nov-13 15:16:22

It is that thing of being 'different', isn't it. It doesn't help that dd is a bit socially awkward anyway, young for her age in that she's not into music / boys / clothes yet, that sort of thing.

I think she's torn between wanting to fit in but also wanting to be herself, and hasn't quite got it figured out where she wants to be.

What I don't want ideally is for her to start skiving / playing the clown / dropping marks deliberately etc

ppeatfruit Wed 20-Nov-13 17:31:52

If she's at a school where her peers are hard working 'good' children then esp. if she's a malleable type you should be okay. But of course once she starts to assert herself she'll probably go the opposite way to what you 'want' grin Which is healthy IMO.

lljkk Wed 20-Nov-13 19:40:58

DD is determined to show off & be the best or always trying to be best. She fumes if she's not the best or doesn't at least do well.
This attitude may lose her friends, too.
So am not sure there's any reliable way forward.

ppeatfruit Thu 21-Nov-13 17:00:55

IIkk but you nailed it when you said it'll lose her friends so she'll get some corners rubbed off or carry on being insensitive it's up to her of course as it always is; perhaps we parents over think things and worry too much!

EmmaGoldmanSachs Fri 22-Nov-13 18:47:23

Its great that she wants to do things well, though lljkk - presumably it encourages her to work hard, which has to be good.

PointyChristmasFairyWand Sun 08-Dec-13 22:34:49

It's a tricky one, isn't it? DD1 is like this - she is very, very lucky in that she is 1) an all rounder - not just good academically but also sporty and arty and 2) she has a peer group of about 10 girls who are all like her - it's a bit hard to bully 10 people at once.

But on the other hand she is annoyed because she isn't best at anything. She's very ambitious - which is good - but also a perfectionist - which is bad. I am trying to get it through to her that someone as rounded as she is will have so many opportunities to shine that it will really help, but at the moment she is focusing on F in maths who is better than she is and L in English who is better than she is. Never mind that she is better at English than F and better at maths than L and better at science than either of them - gah!

What keeps me positive is that she says straight out that she is proud to be a geek. smile

Theas18 Tue 10-Dec-13 09:13:28

trouble is it can turn into bullying. DS was labelled a "boffin" in year 5 and hated it . It wasn't done in a nice way and school weren't sympathetic really to just " name calling and anyway he is clever".

I think it adds to the challenge of a mixed ability school but no one should have adverse comments made either as " so clever" ( and we all no that can be an insult as well as compliment) or " so thick".

A selective secondary fixed DS but I know it's not an option many have.

PointyChristmasFairyWand Tue 10-Dec-13 09:33:51

Theas18 DD1 actually had more trouble at primary - when she got to secondary they set straight away and that really helped. Her form group is mixed, but in practice she has the vast majority of her lessons with children who are like her, which has helped her build the friendship group she has. Her school isn't selective, but they are tight on setting.

DD2 is now in Yr6 and isn't having as much trouble - hers is a very strong cohort academically and she's in a group of friends already who will move up with her. The secondary is likely to split them up into different form groups because they want children to 'make new friends' hmm but in practice she will be in sets with her current group so will be fine.

I am actually not opposed to selective education, I just think the UK does is so very badly - everyone who isn't academic is more or less written off instead of having their talents identified and supported through great vocational education instead.

Newyearchanger Tue 21-Jan-14 23:14:52

Just wondered about this as ds got almost embarrassingly top marks in his exams nearly 100 % in everything and he fektvquite embarrassed .. Hope he doesn't decide to tone it down - as its not cool to be clever - which did happen with his elder brother.

17leftfeet Thu 23-Jan-14 12:34:11

Dd is yr 8 and in the tests at the start of yr 7 she was top of the year in 5 subjects and near the top for the rest

She then absolutely bombed her end of term tests which turned out to be deliberate

By end of year, with much support from her form tutor who is also the g&t co-ordinator, she achieved or exceeded her end of year targets in everything apart from music and drama -they set the drama target the same as the English target for some strange reason

Yr 8 so far has been much more settled -they pick options this year so the whole year group is a bit more focused

ShadowOfTheDay Fri 24-Jan-14 09:18:14

It is so much easier at secondary for my eldest.... at primary she was "clever" but never stretched..

at secondary she is in a "particularly able" - horrid terminology - group in Maths, Science, German and Music and as such is stretched to try to get the best from her.. not just label her clever...

so other kids are seeing that she is not getting 100% in all the tests, she is having to work just as hard as the rest of them and it is REALLY doing HER some good too in that regard.

brettgirl2 Sun 26-Jan-14 09:05:35

I think there is nothing wrong with being labeled clever she IS. The important thing is for her to remain grounded and realise a. It doesn't make her better than others b. others are good at different things.

I am an ex teacher at an average roughish comp and had an exceptionally clever boy in my class. He was also in the uk because parents had claimed asylum so very old head on young shoulders.

He fitted in, no idea how but he did. He accepted the other children for who they were and they did the same. Perhaps him being crap at football (but manfully trying and getting his arse kicked every lunchtime) was the key (or one of them?) who knows?

He never pretended he wasn't clever, surely you have to be yourself and real friends accept you for it?

MrsDavidBowie Sun 26-Jan-14 09:11:08

Ds is yr 10 and very bright....but also sporty, and sociable .He goes to an ordinary boys comp, and his HOY said he ought to try for Oxbridge.
No way was his reply.

He was very bright in primary but then year 8 went through a can't be arsed phase.

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