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How to Cope with Playground Politics

An agenda for parents of gifted kids

Unfortunately for children, parents, and teachers, playground politics is an expectable part of your child’s development and schooling. Playground politics can begin in Mommy and Me classes when your child is barely able to talk in complete sentences. In an authoritative voice, one parent might present her point of view about your child in comparison to hers. It seems that Riley walked earlier than Selena. Or Miranda can already read―can Gracie do that?

These not-so-harmless comparisons can grow into labels for your child. A label causes harm because it is not an accurate assessment of your whole child―it is just a snapshot of evolving development. It is never the entire picture.

Parental pressure based on what is essentially, gossip, can nevertheless have a snowball or roller-coaster effect on your child. To deal with this kind of gossip, you need a strategy.

1.  Be aware that gossip and parental pressure can be and most likely are negative influences in your family’s life.

2.  Try not to engage with mothers and fathers in this level of communication. Try re-directing the conversation or diffusing the interaction. Mrs. X comments upon how bright and out-of-the-box your Josh is, compared to her Sam. You can say, “Thanks for the compliment. I hope you have a great day,” and drop it.

It can be difficult not to engage when parents begin diagnosing your child. One mother might say, “Josh is so withdrawn; he won’t talk to Sam.” Before you can respond, another parent adds, “Paul wanted to play with him and Josh wouldn’t even look at him. I think Josh might have Autistic Spectrum Disorder.”

Do not have a conversation with this parent. For your own sake and for the sake of your child, walk away.

Posted on Sunday, July 31, 2011 at 05:41PM by Registered CommenterBarbara Klein, Ph.D., Ed.D. | CommentsPost a Comment

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