How Do I Get My Daughter to Show She's Smart?

Enna - posted on 02/03/2014 ( 9 moms have responded )




My 14 year old daughter (8th grade) is afraid of acting smart at school because she doesn't want her friends to think she's a dork. So she doesn't do her homework and generally gets low B's and C's. She is really smart, but she refuses to show it. Because of it she's not in any gifted classes and they've actually put her in the lowest level math and reading classes. This is the kid who got straight A's until middle school. And read at an 8th grade level in 3rd grade.

I've talked to her teachers and it's mostly a matter of her refusing to do/turn in her work. I thought in the 6th grade that she would get over it because she was always very competitive, but now I've pretty much resigned myself to the fact that no matter what I do she intentionally does poorly. Grounding her and taking away stuff does no good. Nothing does any good! I've tried to explain to her that she has to start getting better grades because she'll be in high school next year. She says she knows, but I don't think she cares. I don't know what to do!


Chet - posted on 02/04/2014




This may get better on it's own once she's in high school. Middle school is rough. Social dynamics tend to improve in high school and a lot of kids become more motivated when they see a light at the end of the tunnel with graduation. They start making plans and setting goals for life after high school.

You could look into charter schools or all-girls schools that might offer an atmosphere that's better able to motivate and inspire your daughter.

If she is getting Bs and Cs she's still learning, so I wouldn't worry too much. It's not like she's failing and falling hopelessly behind. If she's naturally bright she will be able to achieve when she is motivated to apply herself.

I would try to have her involved in some sort of activity where she is inspired to put in real effort - girl guides, 4H, volunteering, youth group, horseback riding, etc.


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Wendy - posted on 04/05/2016




This sounds similar to my daughter who is 13 and in grade 7. We know our daughter is smart, maybe not as gifted as your daughter, but I have come to the realization that my daughter is LAZY! Perhaps that is her problem too. She is capable but doesn't put the effort in so her marks drop. My daughter is more interested in boys, friends, socializing etc. I have taken her phone away on the condition her marks get better. The lady time it was gone for 4 weeks. You should find out what motivates your daughter. That helps us. We told our daughter she could have a party with her friends at our house if she gets her marks up. That motivated her. We will see how it goes. If homework isn't done, then they don't get to do the things they want to do. For example, sometimes my daughter wants to go to the school dance and I told her that if her grades are kept up and homework is all turned in then she can go. The last dance we told her she couldn't go to and she had a tantrum. She cried and screamed and everything but she probably will remember to do her work next time!

Jennifer - posted on 09/09/2015




I have two girls one is a freshman who is extremely smart but thinks as long as I pass whats the big deal. The other is a sophomore who thinks if its not an A I have failed she carries a 4.2 because of honor classes at this point. Kids are all different my older child went to a highschool graduation when she was young she saw how some kids had different awards for their achievements and it made her want those awards this may be something you could try. With my younger daughter now in high school she wants the teachers to be impressed by her so she works harder and so far is all A as well. She now says to me that she did not enjoy school at her elementary school and she does enjoy high school. I would offer rewards. allowing her to fail is not an option(to me failing is simply not putting forth your full effort) and as a teen I know there are things she wants to do with friends do those based on homework my girls punishment is that they must prove something I do not have chores as long as grades stay at my standards if they fall below then they have chores and they keep them until grades come up and they do them without me telling them and their cell phone is mine until the changes occur be responsible at school or you be responsible at home this also for smart mouths and attitude issues

Aithusa - posted on 08/12/2015




I am having the same issue for a different reason. My daughter hates the attention. So, I have quietly started to congratulate her and reward her for her good behavior. When she doesn't do as well as I know she can I just say "Okay, I know you can do a little better next time, I believe in you." And, then I leave it at that.

When, she does the best she can I reward her with something she has either been wanting or I give her a certain amount for each "A" she receives. And, then how many rewards she receives are purely up to her. I hope this helps.


Karen - posted on 04/14/2014




Hi Enna,
just wanted to reach out and say hi and to be encouraged because both you and your daughter do have proof of her intelligence, just that the application of it (the spark that inspires her to be "all that she can be") is absent/not found yet. I do remember when I started jr. high that I was shocked by how changed some of the kids I'd known all through elementary were, how they turned 180 degrees from the easy friendliness we used to share. She's dealing with that and the fact that there is no year-long single teacher/class that bonds kids together anymore, and dealing with a changing body and the dawning awareness that she's a small fish in a bigger pool that may become an even bigger pool in high school. At least 7 classes a day with a different set of kids in each class, and unless she is outgoing/confident/cheerful, they will only ever be polite acquaintances. That can be lonely and why she's more invested in fitting in with the friends she has, who btw may also be smart but hanging together and coasting. The "coasting" happens in part because teens naturally gravitate toward doing the least possible to get by (if not sparked by a life purpose/calling) and because she knows the assignments she doesn't turn in won't get her failed. If she was at the point that she was getting Fs in everything, you'd have a REAL problem, but it seems like she knows enough to stay afloat and doesn't bother herself with what to her is just "busywork." That brings up the question of what IS she doing with her time? Is it mostly socializing (in person or through social media)? Or is it doing things on her own like reading, watching shows/videos, surfing the net, playing apps? How she's using her time will tell you what's going to spark/inspire her best. If she's a loner, she's self-directed, sort of, and you may be looking at someone who may be wired like Steve Jobs, who only works hard when she sees that the effort leads to a relevant point or passion. Find out what that is and provide her opportunities to gain skills/experience in it. Lots of people didn't go to/didn't finish college/didn't perform well at school, but forged their own success. Spend time with her to find out what she's really pursuing. On the other hand, if she's a social animal, is there any way you can have her mix with really kind, supportive and motivated achievers? Because she will respond to that kind of inspiration. Her current peers certainly aren't inspiring her, are they? But how to introduce her? As I write this, the only thing I can think of is to try seeking service or mission trips, Habitat for Humanity, etc. Find out if there are kids at her school that have gone on such trips, phone local churches and so on, and go on such a mission or project together...and she could find her calling. Having a purpose will change her whole life. Love and prayers, your fellow mom.

Edel Jane - posted on 03/30/2014




Hi Enna, so sorry to read your frustration, I had the very same with my daughter. I got so wound up I became ill and our relationship became strained and fractured for a time, until I realised this is a child who has to learn the hard way. So I chose to step back and let her lead her own path, she didn't open a book but managed to pass all her exams to my dismay. Ok, not with the high grades I know and her school expected, but she passed well enough for college....still I said nothing as I knew she would be restricted as to what courses she could access. True to form and restricted she chose a course and to make a long story short, she was miserable, unable to adapt to college life and discouraged she dropped out a few months on she is nearly 19 and now unemployed many months. I found it all so sad but I had to sit back so she would come to me and see her failings. She herself got ill with depression ( our G.P told me she was treating many young people for the very same reasons) and frightened, but finally she sees a brighter future in further education. She herself has a plan to revise her best subjects to re-entre college in September this year please God! Mind you I think if my lady got employment she'd jump at it, but I don't mind as it soon dawned on me, I wanted my daughter to find her feet not to find her hanging from a tree as pressure at school with peers and pressure at home were all too much for her. Instead I find it easier and quieter taking it a day at a time, walking with her in her life and promoting Adult education down the line, where she will be stronger and mature enough to gain bigger and better qualifications for herself as she has finally realised A's are important! Life is so different for our children as they are open to so much more than we were and for me as a parent of two teenagers their Mental well being is all important anything else can be tweeked later. I do hope this helps, much love and best wishes, Edel

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