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Isolated for being smart

(30 Posts)
scotchbroth1 Sun 19-Jun-11 22:24:13

I'm sure this does happen but basically 8yo DD feels she is being isolated by her classmates (I wont call it bullying yet) because she is notably more intelligent than many others and they are jealous of her, both in her work, mannerisms, tidy appearance etc.. In a way I can understand but how do we tackle this? Acting dumb is not something I would accept. I know a few teenagers who have taken this approach and benefited short term a little, long term just worse.

lingle Sun 19-Jun-11 23:06:18


Do you think she's learnt to understand and appreciate the range of skills that her classmates have? I would worry if my 8 year old felt he was more intelligent than his classmates - don't want to parody you though as appreciate those weren't her exact words!

If the other kids value intelligence enough to be jealous of it at 8 years old, then it's probably quite an aspirational crowd and you won't struggle to find lots of things other kids do better than your daughter does.

Goblinchild Sun 19-Jun-11 23:07:31

Mine was considerably brighter than her classmates, but we had to do a lot of work on her people skills. grin

IndigoBell Mon 20-Jun-11 04:13:42

8 year old kids being jealous of 'mannerisms and tidy appearance'? Sounds unlikely.....

It's not being bright that makes you isolated - it's social skills or lack of......

Or maybe it's just the school my kids go to. But they don't 'judge' my DS for being top of the class, and they don't 'judge' my DD for being bottom of the class. They either like them or they don't - depends on them.

But social skills can be learnt and improved.....

Pretty much all the kids who get bullied, get bullied due to poor social skills, not anything else.....

SouthGoingZax Mon 20-Jun-11 05:57:02

Indigo, I completely disagree. And you sound like a bit of a bully yourself, tbh, blaming the bullied child rather than the bully.

Yes, improvement in social skills may help, but no child deserves to be bullied.

Scotch - can you get your DC into a chess club or similar at the school whee there will be other like-minded children and they can make friends that way? ALso, there's a book about friendships that might help - not sure if this is the one I've seen recommended on here

Best of luck to your DD

savoycabbage Mon 20-Jun-11 06:00:30

Jealous might not be the right word, I can't see eight year olds being jealous because someone in their class is clever.

There is a girl in my dd's class who is quite full of herself. It doesn't matter what you say to her she will tell you how clever she is or how she is better than you. Also, she seems to feel under pressure to be the best all the time. Now that all of the children are getting older they do seem to be a bit irritated by her.

Perhaps you could .help your dd to see that some of the others are good at things too. X is a good artist and Y is good with figures. Even Z has clean shoes if appearance is important in her class...

seeker Mon 20-Jun-11 06:15:22

Can you say a bit more? What sort of mannerisms do you mean? I would be wary of going down the "they are jealous of her" route. What does the teacher say?

SofiaAmes Mon 20-Jun-11 06:56:08

My dd is significantly brighter (and very beautiful) than many of her classmates and friends. This doesn't stop them from being friends with her nor does it make them jealous of her. I'm actually quite surprised at this, because dd can be very bossy. But somehow she is isn't coming across as superior to her classmates. Perhaps there is something your dd is doing that is making her classmates feel inferior. If she does well on a test, does she make a point of telling everyone? Even if she knows the answer, does she let others have a chance to raise their hands and try? It may be that some simple changes in behavior will improve things. And of course she should never be encouraged to play dumb.

MorningPurples Mon 20-Jun-11 06:59:46

Maybe 'jealous' isn't the right words, but 8-years olds can and do isolate some children who are academically high-achievers. I was liked well enough as a child, but was just isolated. I didn't fit their games, didn't fit their conversations, was one of the oldest in the class to start with. I was seen asa sort of teacher's helper, to be honest. One who was liked well enough, but someone you'd have a different relationship with than peers. In primary school I just put up with it, somewhat lonely, and tried to hide my abilities from the others as far as I could. By secondary, there was much more of a stigma to being clever, and there were certainly occasions I deliberately did more poorly than I could have, and I definitely, definitely hid marks, tests, levels etc from others. I was not full of myself at all, had very low self-esteem in fact, as I realised very quickly that what I was good at was simply not at all valued by the others, and I felt like I must be rubbish because I didn't have best friends.

So it can be a problem. Finding other areas where there are similar children can help - mine was with outside music groups. Also areas where academic success isn't obvious and there's little need to hide it as much, like Guides. I also had to learn to separate my feelings of being a good/bad person from how I did in school, which was difficult.

good luck.

cory Mon 20-Jun-11 08:23:15

Is she actively being bullied and excluded (Miss, we don't want her on our table) or is it just that noone wants to be her friend?

I have had experience of both and they can both be very hard to bear. With hindsight, I would say that while there was absolutely no excuse for the former and I totally blame my bullies (and the school!) for that, at the same time I can see where the latter was coming from; people do have a right to choose their friends and I was not brilliant at adapting to other people. I simply thought the things I enjoyed and was good at were better and more important than the things they wanted to talk about. I was not prepared to make an effort for other children, though looking back I realised I expected them to make quite an effort for me.

My dd who is probably brighter than me has had no problems of either kind. I think it is a combination of a number of factors:

a) her classmates are simply nicer people!

b) the schools clamp down very firmly on any bullying (though they obviously can't force people to be friends)

c) dd herself is very good at understanding other people and adapting to them

d) you wouldn't feel, when in dd's company, that she thinks the things she is good at are more valuable than the things somebody else is good at - I think children who talked to me did feel that. It was partly because my whole family thought that way, so it didn't occur to me that you could think differently.

I don't agree that children get bullied exclusively due to poor social skills: school playgrounds tend to have a culture and that can vary from school to school, or even from year group to year group. There are still places where you can get bullied from day one for having ginger hair or having a strange accent before you've had a chance to demonstrate social skills - and there are other schools with a totally different atmosphere. But obviously, even in schools with virtually no bullying, some people will be better liked than others and have more friends.

I think the advice to join clubs is a good one. If your dd finds she can get on with other children, it will boost her social confidence and that in itself can be a great help in getting on with other people.

rabbitstew Mon 20-Jun-11 11:08:39

I agree, it's not as simple as saying good social skills enable you to feel like you fit in and are liked and poor social skills mean you won't ever feel like you have any real friends. Some people, because of their interests and personality, need better social skills than others to fit in - in other words, peers with inferior social skills may fit in fine, but you, despite having reasonable social skills for a child of your age, just have to make so much effort to find a common ground with people you don't actually have much in common with, that it becomes very hard work and feels artificial - or you stop making the required effort and then find you are, rather naturally, being excluded. There needn't be any unkindness or bad feeling on the part of the other children, just a genuine lack of interest in each other. A feeling that someone is OK, or perfectly nice, doesn't translate into friendship, so you can quite easily be a perfectly nice, likeable person without any real friends if you are unlucky in your year group.

I agree that trying to find interests outside of school may help. Not sure what to do otherwise, other than sympathise - although surely the school could try to do something to help make things easier for your dd to find a way into a friendship group, if you raise your concerns? Does the school have a learning mentor at all, or is it no good at this sort of issue? It must arise all the time, that one or two children feel a bit isolated and need some social help.

megapixels Mon 20-Jun-11 11:27:00

You need to give some examples of how she is isolated/excluded by the others, and why you think it is because of her intelligence, mannerisms or neat appearance. Intelligence seems to be highly coveted in DD's school (top group kids are looked at as the smart ones, bottom group ones are ribbed as "well dumb" hmm etc.) but as far as I know no one is friendless or excluded because of it.

snailoon Mon 20-Jun-11 11:47:36

Do you make an effort to invite kids over from her class? If there's no one she wants to ask, can you talk to the teacher about people who might click with your daughter, given the chance. I would invite some kids over and make sure they have fun, i.e. plan a few cool possible activities if they seem to be at a loss (making their own pizzas, building a den, painting old T shirts, doing something muddy outside, an unusual craft activity, taking apart an old computer or clock or other piece of junk).
I think 8 is about the age where kids start to become more conscious of differences such as you describe, and even the nicest, most modest child may end up getting into trouble if they don't know how to deal with being more academic than their peers. I speak from experience with one of my kids.
When you say "more intelligent" you are sounding snobbish; there are many different kinds of intelligence.
When you say "acting dumb is not something I would accept" you sound a little naive; when she's a teenager you're not going to be able to choose her actions for her. She may surprise you.

Lancelottie Mon 20-Jun-11 11:49:08

' I simply thought the things I enjoyed and was good at were better and more important than the things they wanted to talk about.'

Cory, that's quite insightful. I was very like that and probably still am but hide it better. DS definitely thinks that too, and unfortunately detests football and says so. Even DD, the closest I have to an socially intelligent child, is ridiculously similar in that respect. She also sits there busting to get the answer before the others [arm held sky high, 'Me miss! Me, me!'] which probably doesn't endear her to them.

curtaincall Mon 20-Jun-11 11:53:22

SouthGoingZax thats a harsh and completely unfair comment you made about IndigoBell! She made a perfectly obvious and reasonable observation which you seem to have backed up yourself with the recommendation of the book you have linked to your post.

Tuppenyrice Mon 20-Jun-11 12:16:35

Scotch I feel for you as you're obviously worried and I can relate to some of what you say. At school I thought I was different and felt that some of the other kids just didn't get me. It was arrogant but to some extent true. I found a fit in the end and had a great time at school (probably too good...!)
Now I have a kid who is very bright but nothing unusual in the top 3 of his class, early reader, musical, all that. Through nursery & reception he was fine, great friends with lots of kids, popular etc but yr1&2 have been harder. He isn't a show off but he does like people to know that he knows the answer. He gets in trouble for calking out, being a busybody etc. I've had a lot of chats with his teacher and I've even considered moving schools. Most of his pals have moved onto private schools so he is really struggling to find a fit. But before we make any drastic changes we want to help him to not call out etc but also encourage the things hrs good at. He's in a choir outside of school and that puts him in the company of bright boys he can look up to. But the world is full of different people and our kids, bright or otherwise need to learn the skills to get on with others!
So as others have said outside interests help. A lot.
Good luck.

crazygracieuk Mon 20-Jun-11 13:09:39

Are you sure that's why she feels isolated?

I spent my primary school years feeling isolated from the peers but that was probably due to lack of confidence, my overly sensitive nature and poor social skills.

My dd is 8 and she's not G&T but top groups at school. She speaks "properly" but goes to a school in "Sarf London" where t's are missing from words and people use words like "ain't" [shudder]. She's very popular and both her and her friends are aware and totally accepting of each other's differences. There are times where they take the mickey out of each other about their differences but I think that differences can be a positive and what distinguishes one child from another.

Does your dd feel isolated from all her classmates or just a few? Is she able to stand up for herself if it's low level verbal stuff or confide in a teacher or other adult when it happens so that they can help stamp it out at the time?

thejaffacakesareonme Mon 20-Jun-11 18:40:38

I cannot agree that people are bullied just because of poor social skills. Often, bullies want to bully someone else to be in a position of power and will pick on anything that can make someone different. It could be lack of social skills but could just as easily be a different accent, ginger hair, different football club, supermarket clothes instead of designer labels etc.

activate Mon 20-Jun-11 18:41:55

get the secret rules of friendship (or something like this)

and work with your child on social skills

this isn't about IQ it's about a lack of emotional intelligence

pointythings Mon 20-Jun-11 19:27:58

I disagree with the posters who say there must be something wrong with the OP's DD's social skills - my DD was bullied for being smart in Yr 3 and Yr 4, along with her fellow top set children. It was a very small group, only 4 or 5. The boys had it less tough than the girls because they were football mad and could fit in that way, the girls found it much harder and were routinely called names by a group of girls who didn't like the way some of the boys paid attention to my DD's group. It all got quite nasty at one time, fortunately the girls stuck together and went to a different school from the other group in Yr 5. I do think that doing well academically can mark you out, especially if you are also popular with most of the other children - it makes you a target just as much as glasses etc. can do.

I think some children are just bullies for whatever reason and will pick on anyone they perceive as a target - the real reason is pretty much secondary.

sydenhamhiller Mon 20-Jun-11 19:30:30

Just reading this with interest as have DS(7) who finds socialising very difficult. Reading through the threads here, a lot of advice is 'work on your child's social skills'. I was just wondering if anyone had some more detail on that?
I ask friends back after school which are successful enough, but my son would probably rather read in his room... And reciprocal invitations are slow. He swims, plays cricket, and is in Beavers... Which he neither likes nor dislikes, but I think tolerates. Does not like football (sigh... Passport to boy society).
I am at wits end ... He is also strong academically, and I would happily swap SATS levels for better social skills.
I feel the onus on me as a parent to work on this, but not sure what else I can do. any advice gratefully received - OP, hope this is not a hi-jack, seem to fit with general threads, and hope response helps your Dd too.

magdalene Mon 20-Jun-11 20:15:46

I can't believe that people on this thread are excusing bullying behaviour. What's so wrong with being an individual? I think the bullies are the ones with poor social skills!!! She can't help being clever! I would try and enrol her in class where she can meet like minded people and speak to her teacher too.

seeker Tue 21-Jun-11 06:02:22

I don;t think people are excusing bullying behaviour, are they? Of course a child should be able to be how they are, but sometimes they also need to learn how to deal with other people, and, without further information, the OP's assumption that the other children are "jealous of her work, mannerisms, tidy appearance etc" does seem to suggest a element of "everyone's out of step but our Jimmy"

nooka Tue 21-Jun-11 06:24:35

It's difficult to tell from the OP's post whether her dd is being bullied, whether she just hasn't found like minded friends, or whether she needs help with socializing, or all three. In my experience most children go through phases of worrying about friendships, and it is upsetting as a parent, especially if you yourself weren't very happy at school.

I'd start by talking to her teacher and seeing if he/she has noticed that your dd is being left out. My dd a few years ago said she had no friends and I spoke to her teacher who was very surprised and told me the names of the girls that dd played with, which helped because then when dd was sad next time I could talk to her about those friends - it really helped to be able to say 'and what about x or y' and then dd might say that she had played with them but perhaps wanted to play with someone else.

I'd also talk to your dd about why she thinks she doesn't have friends (I too think it is a little strange for neatness or mannerisms to be something other children would be jealous of, but they might well notice differences) and encourage her to do some out of school things with different peopel, especially ones where you can keep an eye on her interactions, and if there are any issues work with her on them.

I was isolated in my last year of junior school (was always a bit of a misfit, but that's the year it mattered for some reason) and I really lost the ability to make friends properly, and I noticed the same thing with my son, a couple of mean kids can really shake a child's confidence and impact their social interactions for quite a while.

Ultimately if your child really doesn't fit their school environment I would look to move them because it is very damaging to feel that you are an outsider, but do look to see if there are ways that she can relate to her classmates better if that is also a problem because it's a life skill she'll need.

crazygracieuk Tue 21-Jun-11 07:35:46

Magdalene- nobody is excusing bullying. The op admits that it's not bullying yet and has only offered possible reasons why her child feels isolated rather than specific incidents. Obviously one of the reasons for the bullying may be that a certain child is a shit and others are being sheep and following the lead of this child but we do not even know the number of children making her feel isolated and whether others in the class are made to feel this way too. At the end of the day the op can do very little in regards to another child's behaviour other than apply pressure to the school to keep a closer eye on things or move her dd's school. The easiest thing for her to do is advise her dd on ant changes that she can make. It's entirely possible that her dd is doing everything right and is just different to het classmates but it's hard to say without op returning and clarifying things.

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