My daughter says other kids say she's "weird"

What do I do about this?

MilliCal, our six year old, came home one day, sad because one of the kids at school said she was “weird”.

Last night, I sat in bed with her, telling her (at her own request) Greek myths. This escalated into a discussion of multi-dimensional space. I told Pepper Mill (struggling with her math homework) about this.

“And you wonder why the other kids say she’s weird,” was her comment.
MilliCal has exceptional verbal skills, is interested in a wide range of things, and goes to science fiction conventions with us. She’s obsessively interested in things like Time Travel. I can see why other kids would think this weird. She definitely takes after us, and we encourage her interest in off-the-wall and unusual things. Heck, around our house, it’s everyday conversation. But I’m sure it’s not typical 6-year-old experience.

So what do I do? Sit her down and tell her that, yes, she is weird, because her parents are weird? Stop talking to her about myths and math? Board her out with an “ordinary” family?
Other Dopers must have similar experiences. What do you do?

They don’t call her “weird” because she is weird (and, well, she is) but because they are six years old. They look for your “hot buttons” and push them til you cry. It’s fun! (Another good one is “baby”.)

If she gets all wound up, they’ll keep calling her “weird”. If not, they’ll stop. And probably try something else. It’s the Law of the Playground.

Just checking, but little MilliCal is an only child, right? No sibs to call her “weird” (and much worse) at home and toughen her up? (The Little Woman is an only and she still gets wound easily, drawn into stupid arguments and power struggles at work, that sort of thing.)

I take it that your daughter was hurt when other kids called her weird? Your story kinda hits home for me, because I can clearly remember tearfully and fervently wishing that I was “just average.” The fact is that it DOES hurt when your peers think you’re weird or use whatever reasons to ostracize or tease. But, I don’t think you really want your daughter not to be weird any more than I (now) want to be average.

I think the best thing you can do for your daughter is keep supporting her in her interests and keep joyfully pursuing yours. You guys are her role models, and by you modelling how delightful it is to find and pursue your own interests will, in the end, far outweigh the opinions of her conventional little friends.

You can also talk to her about what the kids are saying, to lessen its sting and its impact. Sure, she’s weird. But “weird” doesn’t equal “bad” (as you well know). You might also try to get the other kids’ feet wet in stuff like Time Travel and sci fi. Help your daughter learn how to talk about these things with her classmates in ways that they’ll find interesting, too. Most kids, especially at age 6, never get exposed to advanced concepts – adults just assume the kids won’t want to learn about it, when in fact, a lot of kids will soak up whatever you can throw at them. Go make a presentation at school, help out with class projects, whatever. Get in there and show the other kids that your daughter isn’t weird for being interested in these things; that THEY’RE missing out on some great stuff.

“Embrace thy weirdness,” is a motto I’ve lived by for a long time. However, I agree with the others in that 6-year-olds just like to pick on each other.

This will not go away until she gets out of high school. Sorry, but it’s true. So long as she is interested in more than picking on others and the latest fashion trends, she’s likely to be less than popular in school. So long as she finds others of like mind, she should be able to ride it out.

Well, I think you might want to start discussing with her ways to strike a balance. I fully support your efforts with her. But, consider whether she might be lacking in some social skills.

Try to figure out how she interacts with her peers. Is she regularly bringing up topics the other kids just aren’t interested in? Is she disparaging “popular culture” topics others raise? Does she play along with others in recess, or stay off by herself with her nose in a book?

I’m not for a moment suggesting that she “dumb down” to “fit in.” But she might want to learn the strategic benefits of not leading with the ways in which she differs from others.
We worked hard with our kids on social skills. There is no problem with an adult choosing to be solitary. But you want it to be a choice, rather than the result of a lack of social skills.

In my experience, things will get better for her as she progresses through school. But the lower grades can be the harshest, as most kids lack any social skills or developed personalities other than “follow the (apparent) leader” and “ostracize the outcast.” My experience is that it gets much easier for kids to be themselves in Jr. High, and in HS they get to the point where a substantial portion of the student body glories in their individual “wierdness.”

Whether it is deserved or not, it is in your daughter’s interest to avoid being identified as the outcast.

Having said all that, realize that one kid calling your daughter wierd is not the end of the world. But given her interests, your daughter is very different from a great many kids she will be meeting. It may be a good time to start discussing social strategies with her.

Believe me. I’ve been there. And I know how these schoolyard matters can break a parent’s heart.

When my kids were younger, I often thought how much easier it would be to have kids that loved sports and pop music, and were social butterflies who fit in and glided effortlessly through childhood. As they have gotten older, however, I personally find their eccentricities more rewarding.

Heh. You sound exactly like my dad, and I bet your daughter’s childhood will be a lot like mine.

I don’t have any sage advice for you (I was in grad school before I really got the relating-to-my-peers thing down – some will say that I still haven’t mastered it), but I will say that never, even in the darkest moments of junior high, would I have traded my weird family for anything.

Keep being yourself. Two of the best gifts you can give a child are an abiding curiosity about the world and a level of comfort with one’s own personality quirks and differences, even if the second one is sometimes painful to learn in the short term.

Is it more than just the one kid? Is she otherwise fitting in socially, able to talk and play with other kids her age? I wouldn’t worry if too much if it’s just one little man’s opinion.

Definitely don’t go out of your way to “normalize” her or discourage her from pursuing her own interests. Tell her that everyone seems weird to somebody or at some time, and how it’s what makes people interesting.

If you think it’s appropriate, this might be a good opportunity to talk about empathy. Talk to her about how bad it feels to be treated differently for just being yourself, and that that’s how other people feel when you treat them that way.

LilMiss has (to my knowledge) never been called ‘weird’, but she has been told she’s ‘not normal’ more than a few times by peers and even a teacher.
At first she was hurt, but now (at the oh-so-knowledgable age of 10) she embraces being different. Normal is boring, in her opinion. It took a while to work through it though. Discussions of cliques. Of being like everyone else. Of following the status quo. She had to decide where she drew her own boundaries of being different.
She has a small circle of friends- some “normal”, some not so normal (one girl speaks numerous languages- and prefers to speak in anything other than English, another is a tweener goth).
Luckily, she also accepts the fact that Mom and Dad will never be ‘normal’, and is proud of us.

Wow, she sounds like me at that age. I was taking apart my dad’s Commodore while the other kids were playing with blocks. Tends to make conversations a bit strained.

Most of the good advice has already been said, but here’s my two cents anyway: weird is GOOD. Tell her it makes her special. Don’t let her see it as an insult. If they call her weird, tell her to thank them. That usually confuses them enough to make a quick exit :slight_smile:

Ask her and/or her teachers how she interacts with the other kids. Explain to her that maybe she is more likely to find common ground with them by talking about other things - not that there is anything wrong with what she likes, but that kids are different and maybe they don’t understand.

Just keep reinforcing that being yourself is a good thing and if the kids don’t recognize that, it is their problem and not hers. That will set her up for a much easier time as she gets older.

I can not say it more eloquently than Dinsdale has put it. However, I will supplement his post with this.

Psychologically, your daughter appears quite far ahead of her peers. This is not a bad thing. Physically though, remember she is only six, and tho she like science conventions etc…etc…she is still only seeing them through the physical world of six year old.

I have a few cousins who were heavy into MENSA when they were young, mini-mensens we called them. Social skills are 9 times out of 10 looked over by parents who want their children to excel.

I can not stress enough that learning about her physical development, as well as her developmental stages will give you volumes of information to guide you in raising MilliCal.

Anecdotally, my 14 year old neice scored a perfect on her SAT, 1 on her MCAT, and is now at 18 studiing cosmology in New Mexico. I guess she did not want to persure medicine. However, since she was 11, she has been seeing a regular councelor for her social anxieties, and anti-social behavior.

The problem is she would rather work on her Gaussian Processes than say take a hike with friends or go to the movies.

Some will say this is not a problem and why worry about it, she is doing what she wants. Yes, but social development IMHO is essential to living life to the fullest. And to being a well adjusted human being.

So Cal - in short, nurture her interests, and continue doing what you are doing…But be aware of her social development, as it appears she is already encountering adversity at school because of her (non typical six year old interests). Maybe spend time listening to why she thinks her friends think she’s weird…This may help. Good Luck!

Ever since my kids were able to talk they have come running to me saying “So-and-so called me (fill in derogatory term).” My stock answer has always been “Well, are you?”. Almost always the answer has been “No”, at which point I say something like “Then ignore So-and-so”.

My answers are designed to:
A) make the child form an opinion about themselves;
B) voice that opinion;
C) lead the child to realize that other’s opinions are not necessarily something to be concerned over; and
D) teach them that not “feeding” the tormenter by reacting to their taunts is an effective strategy.

If the answer to “Are you?” comes back as “Yes”, as in “Yes, I am wierd/different”, then I will ask questions to explore why the think they’re diferent, how they’re different, if that difference is something they can or can not change, and whether they want to change.

It seems to have worked so far. I know my son gets teased at school for being short, but he seems to take it in stride.

I like Dr. Jackson’s answer. We use the same, “Well, are you?” technique. “Jack called me stupid!” “Well, are you?” “No!” "Then it doesn’t matter what he says.

But I wanted to chime in that I wish, wish, WISH kids of that age had enough sense of self (I understand it’s developmental, not a fault) to be able to have THIS exchange:

“You’re weird.”
“Yeah? Well you’re just like everyone else.”

In my circle of friends, the latter would be considered a burn.


Also, as she gets older, she’ll run into more people of her own age at the cons and things like that, and she can develop a circle of friends who, while not local, are more tuned in to her intellect and interests.

Sounds like she’d get along swimmingly with my 6-year old son. I tell him he’s weird - because it’s true. He takes it as a compliment. I say you should continue as you are. Eventually she’ll find weird friends and they will be content being weird together and not care that others consider them unusual.

Dinsdale, Phlosphr and Doctor Jackson - I wish one of you had been my parent.

As a completely weird social pariah from age 8 through 15, I know from experience that kids can be downright mean and really mess up another kid’s self-image. I remember complaining to my mom and being told “they’re all just jealous of you.” A nice thought, but it did not help. Because I was visibly affected by the mean comments, it escalated rapidly and dramatically to bullying and flat-out terrorizing. At about 15, I started overcompensating and became REALLY weird in self-defense. I was in my late 20s before I became comfortable with my own self.

Now, I’m all mature and shit, so I know that what is weirdness to 6-year-olds is actually coolness they don’t yet get, but if I could go back in time I’d still trade all my uniqueness for fifteen minutes of peace and “fitting in” in school.

You’re daughter isn’t weird at all but do us all a favour and don’t let her invent any death rays

Say, “I think you must have misheard your little friend. What she probably said was ‘Your dad’s weird.’”

How about giving her a “The Geek Shall Inherit The Earth” T-shirt?

I got one of those and it changed my life.

Maybe, but you also don’t want her to think she’s better than everyone else because of her weirdness. There’s nothing worse than someone who keeps to themselves AND believes they’re better than everyone else.

I say, if she’s got friends don’t worry about it.

Along the lines of what Uke says, my kids regularly call me a wierdo. My rejoinder is to call them a “wierdo’s kid.”

Since my kids were able to talk, my wife and I always did our best to provide accurate information to any of their questions, whether they asked where babies came from, why the sky is blue, if there is a God, or what happens when someone dies. When we do not know, we tell them as much, and either suggest they look up the answer, or look it up with them. And when the question calls for an opinion, we state as such, and try to explain how and why other people may disagree. Often when their eyes begin to glaze, we catch ourselves and stop blatting on to ask if we have answered their question. A surprising number of conversations grand to a halt before the impentetrable wall of molecular physics (both parents are lawyers with NO practical skills or knowledge.)

We make a concerted effort to have the whole family present for as many sit down dinners as possible. The conversations are the highlight of many of my days.

My high schooler often brings her friends over to share our meal and conversation. Which is cool. It always shocks me to hear from my 16 year old that her friends like coming over to our house - in part - because her parents are so cool. Some of you Dopers have met me. Believe me - if there is something I am not, it is “cool.” But I think the kids just really appreciate having adults who treat them as intelligent individuals with something to offer.

Have you gotten to the point yet that you sense your kid gets along better with your adult friends than she does with kids her age. Some people just make better adults than they do kids. Fortunately for your kid, her best years are ahead of her. As opposed to the playground’s alpha males and females, who will be peaking prior to high school graduation.

BTW – IMO mythology is one of the best things a parent can expose their child to.

It will be a part of their school curriculum through high school at least. And I can think of few subjects of more wide ranging applicability to being an intelligent, informed person. Mythology is relevant to literature from Homer to GB Shaw and beyond, as well as drama and film such as Shaw again (with an assist from Rex Harrison), Disney, Harryhausen, and Woody Allen. Music, astronomy, architecture, geography, vocabulary, religion, history… You’ve already seen how easy it is to go from mythology to cosmology.

Hell, you could probably divine an entire K-12 curriculum solely out of mythology and Seuss.

You should see if she can get away with replying “Damn straight!” when kids tell her she’s weird. :smiley:

Above all, do not cut down on the activities you enjoy together just for the sake of making sure the kids at school don’t call her “weird”. Kids certainly need to know that if they like it, it’s all right as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody else. Especially let her know you’re proud of who she is and you love her 'cos she’s your daughter.

And there’s no reason she can’t invite her friends along to stuff as well - if she’s got kids she talks about doing things with at school, surely you can find something you can bring them along to. No reason to separate her interests and her social life!

-Olentzero, who was the “weird kid” from Day One, and wishes like hell his folks had gotten him socialized early and often.