My son thinks he has to be stupid to be popular. How should I deal with this?
A sudden, significant change in a child's behavior is a signal that something has happened in his life. In this case, your son's comments give you lots of clues. Suddenly thinking good grades and being smart makes him a geek means that something has been said directly to him, or he has seen it happen to someone else. Most likely he is either being teased or ridiculed for his smarts, rejected by some classmates, or being left out of certain peer activities.
Communication is step no. 1. It is a time to listen, not time to talk him out of feeling this way or even solve the problem. Mention to him the changes you have noticed; ask him why he thinks he's a geek, and what happened to make him feel that way. The important thing is to identify the event.
Step no. 2: Be careful not to immediately respond with helpful comments, like, "You're not a geek," etc. Nor should you immediately try to make it better. Letting him know you understand his dilemma will provide validation. Problem-solve with him about ways to deal with the situation. I like to point out that bullying, etc. is often a sign that the bullies are jealous, and when a child gives in to the ridicule, etc., he is actually letting the bullies win. Help your son find ways where he is the winner!
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