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How to Respond to Comments/Attention from Other Parents of Little Ones

post #1 of 54
Thread Starter 

I could use some help finessing social interactions with other parents from people who are currently there, or btdt. 

 

DS is tiny - 22 months - so I don't know that he is gifted - but he has all the classic personality markers, plus things like being super alert at birth (turning towards noise and making eye contact right away), started speaking in early infancy (with inflection for questions), about 300 words by 18 months, knew all his letters (upper and lowercase) and colors by the same time, etc.  He speaks quite well, in complete sentences with lots of adjectives, proper pronouns, verb tense, and so on - and generally has the conversational demeanor of a confident, tiny adult.  

 

Every time we get together with other parents of children the same age, the conversation quickly turns to DS' differences.  Something he said, how he said it, the size of his vocabulary, how alert and aware he is (perceptive), how he quoted a book we read, or remembered a long ago event.  Other aspects of his personality that are hard to define (intensity, empathy) but are just...different, than his peers.

 

Maybe it is my insecurity as a new parent, or my own anxiety as I remember always being singled out for my giftedness...but I find these situations awkward, to say the least.  When kids are still so young, and parents are often using other children as benchmarks, to say, "I know, it's amazing!" seems insensitive - almost like bragging (even though it's all him!) - but to say nothing feels strange - to struggle to change the subject does as well.  Especially because 5 minutes later it circles back again! redface.gif

 

Sometimes, I'll just shrug, smile and say, "I know, I have no idea where he comes up with this stuff!" 

 

I guess what really makes me sad, is that sometimes the parent goes on to put down their own kid, or just flat out ignores their kid and keeps paying attention to DS.  I try to interact more with their child and point out cool things he/she is doing.  Every kid is awesome in their own right!

 

Any good strategies?  Am I panicking and overly worried about coming across like a tool?  I just never know what to do with all that attention. I want to let DS shine, and for him to be comfortable in his own skin, but I don't want anyone else feeling bad, or making their kid feel bad. greensad.gif

post #2 of 54
My dd will be 4 in June. She has not been tested but has always been advanced since birth. From my experience she stood out more from 3 and under. People don't think before they speak sometimes. She is in a mixed 3-5 preschool so she doesnt stand out as much at times. You will know who you feel comfortable and not to talk about certain things. Im lucky I have sisters that have been were I am now. I have a lot if friends 5 of us that all gave birth with in 3 months if each other. The first year it was like a show to see a 12 month old speak in full sentences. I did the same always said positive things about them and there child.
post #3 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by pickle18 View Post

 

Sometimes, I'll just shrug, smile and say, "I know, I have no idea where he comes up with this stuff!" 

 

 

 

Yes, I always found that sort of response worked.

 

Usually, it was all part of small talk and casual chit-chat, so I would simply use basic conversational tactics to steer the dialogue back to what other kids were doing or other topics. Most people are happy to talk about their kids, themselves and their own lives, so usually I just kept asking questions on those topics to move them away from talking about my kids.  

 

eg. "Yeah, he surprised us with that [interest or ability] the other day. I noticed [your kid] is doing [whatever] now. How long has he been doing that?"

 

or "DC likes to do that just when I'm trying to get [whatever] done. How do you handle it when they compete for your attention like that?"

 

or "Yeah, he picked that up pretty quickly on his own. We want to make sure he also enjoys [some alternative activity]. I heard your kid [tried Mom and Tots at the pool, baby yoga, music class etc.]. Did he like it? What do you think of it?"    

 

Sometimes it depended on the other person's tone. Some parents would be almost accusatory and seem to be interrogating me about whether we were drilling or hothousing to speed up my kid's development. I would try to remain neutral and not defensive and that's where "I have no idea where he comes up with this stuff" works really well. 

 

I don't know what to say about other parents who are focusing all of the attention and conversation on your kid even when you try to change the subject. It sounds like they are obsessing a little. Are there a lot in your circle who are doing that? That would be awkward, no doubt. Maybe they are trying to figure out what you are doing to "make him that way" and whether they can repeat your success. 

post #4 of 54

Although it's not bad to take a compliment when it's offered sometimes! My son happened to be quite alert at birth and then met his baby milestones quite early. I didn't think it was that big a deal, but when people were like, my goodness, he's sitting up already? I'd just answer, "I know right? He's super smart!" That usually made people want to stop talking about it, so it also works.

post #5 of 54
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tuesdaymom View Post

My dd will be 4 in June. She has not been tested but has always been advanced since birth. From my experience she stood out more from 3 and under. People don't think before they speak sometimes. She is in a mixed 3-5 preschool so she doesnt stand out as much at times. You will know who you feel comfortable and not to talk about certain things. Im lucky I have sisters that have been were I am now. I have a lot if friends 5 of us that all gave birth with in 3 months if each other. The first year it was like a show to see a 12 month old speak in full sentences. I did the same always said positive things about them and there child.

I am hoping that the kids/parents all grow out of this soon...once all the kiddos are speaking in full sentences, for example, I think it won't be so distracting, though I'm sure DS will still be his lil oddball self. smile.gif  It seems to me, with little kids, that if one seems advanced, some parents internalize that as "my kid is behind" - lots of comparisons going on. I feel like that lessens as kids get older and more clearly display multiple interests and talents (I hope!)

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ollyoxenfree View Post

Sometimes it depended on the other person's tone. Some parents would be almost accusatory and seem to be interrogating me about whether we were drilling or hothousing to speed up my kid's development. I would try to remain neutral and not defensive and that's where "I have no idea where he comes up with this stuff" works really well. 

 

I don't know what to say about other parents who are focusing all of the attention and conversation on your kid even when you try to change the subject. It sounds like they are obsessing a little. Are there a lot in your circle who are doing that? That would be awkward, no doubt. Maybe they are trying to figure out what you are doing to "make him that way" and whether they can repeat your success. 

Yes!  I definitely get that tone sometimes.  Also, just alot of wide-eyed disbelief ("he can't be saying that!" "where would he have gotten that from?" "that's ridiculous!") in addition to the more complimentary, "wow, that's amazing!"  

 

We could probably use a bigger circle.  We have alot of childless friends, and though I try to make friends at the playground, it mostly just results in a few familiar faces and small talk.  The few families that we do spend time with regularly, it's pretty common and really getting distracting and uncomfortable for DH and me.  Thanks for giving me more responses!  That will help.

 

The biggest culprits are also first-time parents, so I think that's where alot of the anxiety comes from.  I just cringe when I hear them say things like, "you don't say anything cool like that!" to their kids (one child responded by looking upset, saying "bye!" and running away).  Or the other day, we were at the playground and one mom was really proud of their child's climbing skills, and that seemed to make her feel better (she'd already been talking about DS' abilities again).  I joined her in marveling at him...then DS came running up and executed the same thing, and she was so deflated, saying, "Oh, see? He's nothing special, your son can do that, too!" It pains me to see that kind of bitterness brewing in our close friends, and I don't know how to stop it.

 

Since DS' infancy, I've learned to kind of hold back on talking about his accomplishments, so it's really just based on what they see. 

post #6 of 54

For starters, it's good to distance yourself from anyone who spends too much time watching and talking about your child. In my experience, this never pans out well. It might be "wow" now but seems to develop into resentment and ugliness over time. You want to hunt down people who are secure in themselves and their own children. I recommend multi-age playgroups where parents aren't so prone to compare. Groups with second time moms tend to be more relaxed too. The "first time mom, everyone the same age" group can be hairy.

 

What to do in the minute? Well, I learned to just say "oh thanks, yes, she really likes to chatter" or "yes, he's a curious fellow for sure" and then compliment their own child on something meaningful and change the subject.

 

Traps to avoid... don't try too hard to downplay your own child's abilities. Nobody buys it and it makes you look like you pity the other kids. Don't respond to a compliment with a criticism. No one means to do it but little things can slip out like responding to a nice comment with "sure he's smart but if he could only clean his room." Avoid activities with friends that highlight your child too much. It's great to go to a museum! Maybe not great to go with your mommy friends when your tot is reading all the signs and most are still learning letters. A beach trip might be more comfortable.

 

Mostly, just be careful who you surround yourself with. It does get better. It can be a little touchy through kindergareten... you might get a little in 1st and 2nd. By 3rd grade, most everyone is a lot more secure and those that aren't are just sorta crazy. Your child might still be years ahead but they won't look quite so different. Kids develop their own interests and talents. Moms are getting some of their own life back and so have their own things to talk about. 

post #7 of 54
I think as they mature. They are very aware of their differences. My dd started preschool in sept. and said these kids just dont under stand me. Most of them are a year and two years older. She is allso very mature for age.
She knows who and what to say around people.
post #8 of 54
Thread Starter 

whatsnextmom - Thank you so much! bow2.gif  That was excellent, and helpful on so many levels.  I do feel strange trying to downplay or fish for the right words, and you gave me a lot of options and good advice on what not to say as well.  I REALLY don't want to come across as patronizing or pitying or anything in that realm, that's not where I'm coming from at all, and a definite concern of mine.  I am going to work harder at broadening our social circle - I think you are absolutely right on about the kinds of people I would like to find (hopefully in addition to our existing friends).

 

tuesdaymom - I remember feeling exactly this way from a very young age.  I told my mom the same thing and would tire of playing with agemates pretty quickly.  So far, DS is just a bit puzzled when kids don't talk back smile.gif but he tries to do the talking for them, and loves to socialize - very sweet and outgoing lil dude. He does also play really well with the 5-6 year old crowd, so more of those opportunities would be nice.

post #9 of 54
Awww he sounds so cute! I think whatsnextmom gave really good advice .
post #10 of 54

Whatsnextmom had great advice thumb.gif

 

It really is hard and awkward  sometimes, I totally understand where you're coming from OP. I've had good friends seriously concerned that there must be something WRONG with their children because they were on later end of normal with everything and DD was doing things months and months (and sometimes years) before them.....I know moms who make a point to tell me all about what counting or writing or whatever their child is doing these days, when really I'd just like to hear from their little one what they are ENJOYING at preschool etc....I've even had other moms spend our time together trying to get their child to do or say when mine was doing/saying (i.e. walking...the alphabet....as if those things could just be magically achieved by badgering the poor kid)..

 

And it is so easy to fall into responding with "oh, there's nothing wrong with your kid, haha, mine is the strange one" or little jokes like that really aren't the message I ever want to send to her.   

 

I have found it isolating in that "mom talk" doesn't cover what I want to talk about, ykwim?  Not only do I have to worry about sounding like I'm bragging just by mentioning what my child is doing these days (it seems you're allowed to be proud of your child unless they are ahead of  what the other children are doing, then it is bragging rolleyes.gif ) but I don't have anyone to talk to that understands what it's like to have a child like mine or has any experience with the things I wonder about/am going through with her....My kid just isn't like theirs....she just isn't!  So, I'm happy to have found this forum.  I feel like I'm busting at the seams with questions and topics but trying to restrain myself, haha blahblah.gif

post #11 of 54
Thread Starter 

Thank you so much, Katico!  You hit the nail on the head.  It upsets me to see parents missing out on their kid's innate awesomeness, it worries me that I'll say the wrong bumbling thing (whatever my intentions - and you're right - it is so easy to say, even about myself as an adult, "Oh, well you know, I'm just weird like that..." or something similar about my kid - that I don't want him to internalize).  That balance between self-deprecation and stepping on others' toes is hard.  It often seems like you can't really win, ykwim?  Someone's going to be upset - and I think, on some level, I just have to be ok with that (and if it has to be someone, preferably not my kid!).  Do my best to redirect and be gracious and not say something really clueless...but this is kind of the uphill battle that gifted kids fight, that nobody wants to talk about.

 

And don't hold back, please! orngbiggrin.gif  I do so love your posts, and there is a community here of parents of little ones that can really benefit from that sense of belonging and understanding.  

post #12 of 54
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Katico View Post

I have found it isolating in that "mom talk" doesn't cover what I want to talk about, ykwim?  Not only do I have to worry about sounding like I'm bragging just by mentioning what my child is doing these days (it seems you're allowed to be proud of your child unless they are ahead of  what the other children are doing, then it is bragging rolleyes.gif ) but I don't have anyone to talk to that understands what it's like to have a child like mine or has any experience with the things I wonder about/am going through with her....My kid just isn't like theirs....she just isn't!  So, I'm happy to have found this forum.  I feel like I'm busting at the seams with questions and topics but trying to restrain myself, haha blahblah.gif

 yeahthat.gif to all of this!

post #13 of 54
Quote:
I am hoping that the kids/parents all grow out of this soon...once all the kiddos are speaking in full sentences, for example, I think it won't be so distracting, though I'm sure DS will still be his lil oddball self. 

good luck with that thought! I'm finding quite the opposite to be true. As they age the subject matter, language skills and knowledge sticks out more and more- in our case.

 

I try my best not say much to those in our circle who (in our case) happen to have children two to three years older and are not on my DS's level in many areas. It's hard and I have been meet with some sadness by a few who's older children are doing skills mine being younger has been doing for awhile (telling time, reading, writing, etc). One friend just stopped saying things (her way of dealing with it)-it's like an big elephant in the room, yet I won't bring things up and only give short responses unless I know the person very well,  I don't down grade my DS either.

 

 My DS is 5, tall and that kind of helps strangers think he is closer to 6, he just turned 5- I don't volunteer info.

 

good luck

post #14 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by whatsnextmom View Post

For starters, it's good to distance yourself from anyone who spends too much time watching and talking about your child. In my experience, this never pans out well. It might be "wow" now but seems to develop into resentment and ugliness over time. You want to hunt down people who are secure in themselves and their own children. I recommend multi-age playgroups where parents aren't so prone to compare. Groups with second time moms tend to be more relaxed too. The "first time mom, everyone the same age" group can be hairy.

 

What to do in the minute? Well, I learned to just say "oh thanks, yes, she really likes to chatter" or "yes, he's a curious fellow for sure" and then compliment their own child on something meaningful and change the subject.

 

Mostly, just be careful who you surround yourself with. It does get better. It can be a little touchy through kindergareten... you might get a little in 1st and 2nd. By 3rd grade, most everyone is a lot more secure and those that aren't are just sorta crazy. Your child might still be years ahead but they won't look quite so different. Kids develop their own interests and talents. Moms are getting some of their own life back and so have their own things to talk about. 

Excellent advice.

 

My two are in 2nd (age 7) and it is all good for the most part. My quirky kiddos have found peers in 2nd grade and for us it was not quite as delicate of a situation as having a fluently reading  3 yr old. Ages 3.5-5 were the time that it was a bit unusual, but we found playgroups, activities, and things to do that worked for us.In 2nd there are kids that are reading from a 1st grade to a 4th grade level and the work is differentiated to a good degree. If one of them wants to talk of dwarf planets, black  holes, etc...there is usually someone else that they can chat with. The school has Math Pentathalon, Chess, Green Club, Readers Theater, Science Fair, etc that really lets kiddos explore with like peers.

 

Even now, if something comment-wise comes up- I usually respond " She really does like space!" or "Yes, she loves to read." etc. Nothing more or less. 

 

I will also add-- we dealt with a combination of delays and early skills in the same child(ren) so it was a lot of...they do X but not Y? As elementary age kiddos they are 2E (combo of advanced and disabled).  There was a unique set of emotions to having kiddos that were both fairly ahead and behind their same age toddler/infant/preschool/elementary age peers.


Edited by KCMichigan - 3/10/13 at 8:03pm
post #15 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by serenbat View Post

good luck with that thought! I'm finding quite the opposite to be true. As they age the subject matter, language skills and knowledge sticks out more and more- in our case.

 

 

yeahthat.gif

 

Absolutely has been the case here too.  When your child is theorizing about astrophysics and cracking geology jokes at 3 years old...it kind of sticks out like a sore thumb,.  The depth of thought, vocabulary, language skills, subjects of their curiosity, knowledge they posess....it's all pretty conspicuous. 

 

My child is painting microbes and skeletons while her peers are  painting...what?  I don't even know!!!!   Because we don't paint with our little friends, haha, I don't like to freak out their mothers!!!!!!!!!! 

post #16 of 54
Quote:
it's all pretty conspicuous

like I said - thinking back 18months was a breeze compared to 5! hide.gif

post #17 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Katico View Post

 

I have found it isolating in that "mom talk" doesn't cover what I want to talk about, ykwim?  Not only do I have to worry about sounding like I'm bragging just by mentioning what my child is doing these days (it seems you're allowed to be proud of your child unless they are ahead of  what the other children are doing, then it is bragging rolleyes.gif ) but I don't have anyone to talk to that understands what it's like to have a child like mine or has any experience with the things I wonder about/am going through with her....My kid just isn't like theirs....she just isn't!  So, I'm happy to have found this forum.  I feel like I'm busting at the seams with questions and topics but trying to restrain myself, haha blahblah.gif

 

I completely agree with this! Even with family members, I feel like I always have to tread carefully, since so many of my questions can be construed as bragging rights. When that's not what I mean to be doing at all!! And it doesn't help that anything I tell my parents gets turned around and spread to the rest of the family...my parents are great at bragging. blahblah.gif

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Katico View Post

 

yeahthat.gif

 

Absolutely has been the case here too.  When your child is theorizing about astrophysics and cracking geology jokes at 3 years old...it kind of sticks out like a sore thumb,.  The depth of thought, vocabulary, language skills, subjects of their curiosity, knowledge they posess....it's all pretty conspicuous. 

 

My child is painting microbes and skeletons while her peers are  painting...what?  I don't even know!!!!   Because we don't paint with our little friends, haha, I don't like to freak out their mothers!!!!!!!!!! 

 

I also find that it is getting more conspicuous as DD gets older (she's 5). For example, we spent the day at the Zoo yesterday, and we had 4 sets of strangers comment on something she did. The first time, she was reading the placard in front of the lions, and they couldn't believe she could read at all, let alone as fast as she was reading it, and words like 'savannah' and 'grasslands'. This happened at a couple of different animal exhibits, always "I can't believe she's reading that!" type comments.

 

The second time, she overheard another adult call the chimpanzees monkeys; she turned to me and said (quite loudly): "They're not monkeys, they're apes. RIght, mom? Monkeys have tails." This was overheard by everyone in our vicinity, including the person who called the chimps monkeys. blush.gif

 

We also had someone walking ahead of us who was obviously eavesdropping on our conversation, lol. They turned around at one point and told Maya she had quite an impressive vocabulary for such a small person. 

 

At least everyone was nice. Except for the chimp monkey lady, who gave me a death stare, but I don't really blame her for that. goodvibes.gif

post #18 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by serenbat View Post

good luck with that thought! I'm finding quite the opposite to be true. As they age the subject matter, language skills and knowledge sticks out more and more- in our case.

 

In our case it definitely got easier. My youngest is now 10 and she is able to integrate pretty darn well with kids her age. Sometimes there are mis-steps but those are mostly, I confess, because I have intentionally tried to avoid the whole "what is grade level" mentality in our homeschooling and sometimes she assumes that because she's known something for years her age-mates will at least have a clue what she's talking about. But generally my kids have been pretty socially savvy by age 7 or so, and have understood how to put others at ease and meet them where they're at. Not to say that they were oozing with social confidence and grace, but they definitely understood that they had a lot of knowledge and skills that weren't typical of kids their age and knew how to avoid drawing attention to the disparities.

 

Miranda 

post #19 of 54
Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by serenbat View Post

good luck with that thought! I'm finding quite the opposite to be true. As they age the subject matter, language skills and knowledge sticks out more and more- in our case.

 

In our case it definitely got easier. My youngest is now 10 and she is able to integrate pretty darn well with kids her age. Sometimes there are mis-steps but those are mostly, I confess, because I have intentionally tried to avoid the whole "what is grade level" mentality in our homeschooling and sometimes she assumes that because she's known something for years her age-mates will at least have a clue what she's talking about. But generally my kids have been pretty socially savvy by age 7 or so, and have understood how to put others at ease and meet them where they're at. Not to say that they were oozing with social confidence and grace, but they definitely understood that they had a lot of knowledge and skills that weren't typical of kids their age and knew how to avoid drawing attention to the disparities.

 

Miranda 

I'm sorry, you totally misunderstood what I posted - we are not have a social problem with other children, I was commenting on what I thought this thread was about - the comments made about the child by adults as in -  

 

 

 

For example, we spent the day at the Zoo yesterday, and we had 4 sets of strangers comment on something she did. -

 

 

My child is painting microbes and skeletons while her peers are  painting...what?  I don't even know!!!!   Because we don't paint with our little friends, haha, I don't like to freak out their mothers!!!!!!!!!!                

 

this is exactly what I was talking about.

post #20 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by serenbat View Post

I'm sorry, you totally misunderstood what I posted - we are not have a social problem with other children, I was commenting on what I thought this thread was about - the comments made about the child by adults

 

But when my child is out in a social situation where other adults tend to be observing and judging kids' development, it's typically an environment that includes other children so "fitting in"  vs. "sticking out" is largely with reference to other kids. As for environments that don't include other children, I've found that once kids get beyond age 5 or 6 adults tend to lose track of developmental milestones, so there's no sense of sticking out with reference to norms. Adults seem to take more notice of the older child's social maturity than of presumed intelligence. Prior to age 5 I'd get a lot of comments about how "smart" my kids were. After age 5, the comments tended to be more about their focus, their interesting ideas, their maturity, their empathy, their creativity, their drive. Much easier stuff to deal with, IMO.

 

Miranda

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