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Snappy comebacks
for grade accelerated children

by Carolyn K. director, Hoagies' Gifted Education Page

Also read Short Answers for why our children are grade accelerated for the adults...

Q. Any suggestions for snappy replies to comments of the "you're not supposed to be in this class" type?

A. When our daughter moved from first to second grade after the holiday break, she encountered a bit of teasing that she was really uncomfortable with. So we brainstormed for solutions, ideas for responses to verbal barbs, whatever might help. We also discussed that, yes, this really is unusual, a bit difficult, but a good thing. Just talking about it seemed to help.

Her first reaction to the verbal barbs wasn't very successful. No matter what the taunt was, she replied "You're stupid." We talked about how the other guy feels depending on how she responds. We did some role-playing. She played the other guy, and felt bad after I used her response. So we brainstormed for some alternatives.

"You're dumb."
"Yup, that's why they put me in second grade."

"You belong in kindergarten."
"Maybe, but the 2nd grade stuff is much more interesting."

"You have to repeat 2nd grade next year."
"Wow, they should let you have Miss A.'s (principal) office now that they put you in charge of the school!"

[any comment she can't handle]
"You may be right, why don't you talk to Mrs. K. (teacher) about it?"

She practiced them on Daddy, and she really liked the one about the principal's office.

Here are some other ideas that I've collected over the years from the mailing lists:

We are no longer using the term "skipping" a grade or "accelerated," We now say he "tested out" of a grade.  Somehow, to kids (and some parents) the word "skipping" sounds like we got away with something, and some are envious. When we say "tested out" the kids tend to shudder and pity someone who had take such tests, and the parents seem to understand that it was not just some lark or parental pushiness that caused it to happen, but that it was somehow "official". Just semantics, I know, but I sure wish I had thought of it years ago.

So if she gets asked, "are you the girl that skipped?"  "No, I tested out."

I hope it helps you like it has us!

The perfect response when someone asks increasingly complex questions, trying to trip you up, or stupid questions, like "read any good encyclopedias lately?" "You know, that's EXACTLY what I was going to ask you!"

"But you're too young to be in 3rd grade!!" "My body's 8, but my brain is 14."

The first thing that came to my mind when I read this post was "what would Miss Manners say?" Maybe it doesn't come across as well with kids, but I think she would say something like "Thank you so much for your concern, but you needn't worry about my schooling."

Perhaps this is not what you are looking for. We teach J. to tell the other guy that what he/she said really hurt her feelings. Sometimes, she has learned, that it is more effective to wait until later (when there is no teasing going on) to say this. She has also learned that she may have to do this several times to be effective. I think that whatever comeback is used will just spur the teaser on. He may, at some level, realize that he is doing something hurtful - but he probably was never told in such a direct fashion before.

You have to use an intonation ... but the biggest deflator, and most useful all-purpose word in dealing with any kind of verbal abuse, is probably: "Oh." Spoken very clearly, and followed by silence.

"I know you are, but what am I?"
"I'm rubber, you're glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you."
Sorry.....flashing back to my freshman year..... :-)

How about taking control of the situation the old fashioned way...
"You're stupid"
"It sounds like you think I'm not very smart...."
"You belong in kindergarten"
"It sounds like you think I should not have been grade advanced...."

It might become a fun "Communications 101" game for her, and the insecure bully will wear down quickly. (or it will be so politically correct and irritating that he'll just stop...)

One Mom reports her son used to stop a bully in his/her tracks by saying "Why does it make you feel good to make me feel bad?"

Teacher: "You're doing really well in everything, but your handwriting is terrible. We'd like you to work on it."
Gifted child: "Why? I'm planning on going to medical school, and they'll just have to teach me to write like this then."
OK, this isn't a good idea, but its fun to be silly sometimes.

Good luck. Grade acceleration isn't easy. The first 4 weeks were a bit of a roller coaster. But for us, after a few weeks, 2nd grade was clearly a much better place to be.

Last updated December 01, 2020

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