Letting Kids Fight it Out

Isn’t it strange how we can quickly forgive people who do wrong to us, but really struggle to forgive those who do bad things to the people we love. We become so fiercely protective of our loved ones that we become ferocious beasts out to shield them from any pain. This is especially problematic when our kids come to us complaining about a fight they got into with a friend or a classmate. I am not talking about bullying here – that ALWAYS needs to be taken seriously, but rather when there is an argument or falling out among friends. All kids have them and, I have learned, they tend to get over them very quickly. The hard part is parents might not be able to bounce back as quickly and may have a hard time of letting go of their animosity toward the child that hurt their kid’s feelings.

So, what should you do if your child comes home complaining of an argument with a friend?

  • Talk with your child about what happened. Ask how they feel about it. Be open and receptive to whatever they want to share.
  • Ask how they want to handle it. Are they going to give it time to blow over? Are they going to try to talk with their friend? Do they want you to talk with the other child’s parent(s) about what happened? It is critical your child play an active role in deciding how to manage the situation. You are modeling for your child how to work through a social problem and how to act accordingly.
  • Help to direct your child to healthier solutions – more talking through problems and less punching the other child in the nose.
  • Give your child the support needed to follow through on their plan. Be open to discussing how the process is going for them.
  • If your child is ready to forgive the child and move forward in their friendship, stay out of the way. Kids have their feelings heard easily, but also tend to forgive quickly, too.
  • If a problem persists with a specific child or group of children, discuss with your child whether this is a relationship that should continue. Be prepared to set limits if necessary.
  • The big thing is to get out of their way. Let them handle it if at all possible. They are learning important conflict resolution skills.
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