How to Get My Child to Quit *Pretending to Be Dumb*

Updated on January 10, 2011
M.G. asks from The Plains, VA
10 answers

OK this has been going on since around Jan... My oldest (almost 4) will totally pretend he doesn't know something (even very simple things I know he knows) he even goes on and on acting like he is thinking really hard, then asks for a little help. It is bothersom, but it is really driving my DH nuts! He is is low on the patience scale. I know other kids do this, but how do you brake it? I try to ignore, sometimes I help him and I do give positive reinforcement for good behavior and when he actually just says his ABC without pretending to not know them, etc. HELP! Thanks for reading!

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answers from Cincinnati on

When you find out let me know! My son is 6 and up until the end of last month he had his kindergarten teacher completely fulled into thinking he doesn't know what he is doing at school!!! He doesn't want to be "smarter than the other kids" or be so smart that he gets harder work, so he acts like he doesn't know what he's doing. We let him walk away and take a break at home but that opportunity is not an option at school so not a good coping mechanisim to teach.

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answers from Fort Wayne on

I have run into the same thing with my son who just turned 5. I talked to his preschool, and they verified he knew all these things. I told them I thought he still needed help with it because he does not act as if he can do basic things or recall basic preschool curriculum. I think it's an act to get attention from me, so I quit giving him the help.

When he acts like he can't dress himself, I tell him he has so long to pick out an outift or else I am picking out what I want for him. I pick out someeething I know he won't like, so he decides to pick out his own clothes. When we practice writing in workbooks or activity books, he will act like he needs help holding the crayon, marker or pen. I tell him that it takes practice to become good at things. I encourage him when he tries, no matter how good it is. Sometimes he is upset, so I recognize it and tell him that we can try again. I show him that the first time looks different than the 10th time we wrote the letters, so he can see it's better with practices.

To be honest, I think it is just a phase. I know the knowledge is in there, so I don't stress it too much. When my little one is around other kids, he is making steps to learn and fit in with peers. I assume your little one will do the same thing. Perhaps getting your child into a pre-school or daycare with preschool activities over the summer will help.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dayton on

My five yr old just started doing this and she starts school this year. I'm super worried because we're taking her to be evaluated for kindergarten next week.
I theorize that she's doing it because she doesn't want to go to school and/or is afraid of a new thing? Could it be that your son is also afraid of the move?
DH and I are doing everything we can to assure her, but it's so frustrating! There are times where I just have to walk away from her because I get so frustrated. I know how smart she is! It's like she thinks it's cute to act dumb, when it isn't.
Good luck and know that you're not the only one experiencing this problem.



answers from Kansas City on

My daughter, ALSO 4, does the same thing. She is very intelligent (doing first grade math and can read roughly 60 words), but if she thinks that it is more than 'play' she will play dumb. Exactly like the boy in the question, she will pretend to think real hard. It drives me nuts. She has been doing this since she was really young, at 2 yro, she would start to say the correct answer and then say something totally wrong. I had to trick her into giving the correct answers. She LOVES to read, and she likes to do 'workbooks'; I am worried that when she gets into kindergarten (in 2 yrs) she is going to be bored out of her mind, but at the same time she may also still be pretending. I look forward to seeing if there is a solution to this



answers from Indianapolis on

My son is 8 now but use to do that at 4/5 and on. He was craving my attention and I was giving it to him. It prevented him from becoming more independent. When children go to school and see other children doing things without help, they will do or work towards the same. Socialization and competition with peers. There is a point when helping is good, and then it is done so much it becomes harmful.

This can lead into laziness on your child's part because they have found a way for "someone to do it for them." You must break this pattern.

ie: my son would not dress himself, but I would lay out his clothes the night before. so on the weekend, if we were headed somewhere, we would miss a couple of functions until he started getting ready by himself to make these function. or we would get to the function late, but he was able to understand what he had to do to be places he wanted to go on time.

ie: we had to do reading. started out reading 3-5 pages, until we could read 20 minutes. he would say he did not know, but I knew the words were very familiar to him. so, I would go over the words then start him reading. i would tell him we could move onto the next activity when his reading was complete. I would do other things and have him get me when he was ready, but he could not get any of his other privledges until this was done.



answers from Canton on

get him tested dear....he may not be dumb he may be autistic
or he may have other issues such as hearing or comprehending things have him tested!!as a nurse surely you have heard of this type of things



answers from Columbus on

Happy Mother's Day.

Your son is doing that because he wants your attention. He also likes the feedback and it makes him feel good when he comes up with right answere even if he already knew it. Your son is real smart take him to the Library and let him check out books for example and say" Lets find out what whales eat" they have lots of fun books for children his age at the library. I would take him to the library in Hilliard because they have a big area just for children his age. I would also not say "stop pretending to be dumb"



answers from Indianapolis on

Kids know how to get to parents. And when they see one is irked and the other is not, they try to pit one against the other. I say, both of you should just laugh, and say something like "oh, you're silly, you know what that is". And just skip it. If you are trying to school him like Kindergarten or first grade, he is too young and giving him some time will help this greatly. Don't push him with the school work until he gets a little older.



answers from Cincinnati on

My daughter does the same thing!! She is also 4. I think it is an attention getter. She will ask me a question that I know she knows the answer to and I will just say, "You know what that is!" Then I will ask her what it is and she will tell me! My daughter has an almost 2 year old brother and another 5 week old brother so I think she feels alittle ignored at times. She also talks to hear herself talk sometimes and she just rambles and that drives me nuts too!! I feel bad sometimes when it seems like all I do is nag at her and tell her to stop doing this and pick up that!



answers from Cleveland on

It sounds like there is a lot going on in your house, a younger sibling, you are pregnant and you are moving. My guess is if he is asking for a little help, he is feeling a little ignored (not your fault, you are very busy), but it sounds like he needs a little extra love. Try, if possible to have you or your husband spend some one on one time with him doing an activity for him that your younger one would be too young for. Visit a museum, see a show, go to the movies, stress how since he is older and knows more, he will have a great time.
Have you tried giving him some more responsibility and decision making. Make it his choice what you have for dinner or where you go play. Have him help you with your younger son, but stress that he can do it since he knows so much.
I know it is hard with so much going on, but try to be sensitive to his needs and see the "not knowing" as a sympton.