The holidays can be a fun time of the year, but it seems that they also bring out the worst in some children.
Fights with friends seem to escalate faster and emotions run higher than normal during these months. How do you handle your child when there’s conflict?
This article offers advice for how to help resolve disagreements between friends and keep things from getting out of hand.
Don’t take sides
This is one of the most important pieces of advice we can give you. Just like the saying goes, “Don’t take sides on a pick-up game”, don’t take sides in your children’s arguments.
Doing so will only make the divisions between both parties worse, and it may cause your child to not want to confide in you in the first place.
The child’s main concern is that you will try to resolve the problem and argue with him about it later on.
Teach them to resolve things on their own
While you still don’t want to take sides, you can and should help your child learn how to resolve the problems on his own. To do this, teach him how to think about things without being judgmental and help him see other viewpoints.
Listening and talking with your child are important skills that he needs for these situations. It will also prepare him for arguments he will have as an adult, so it’s teaching outside his specific friendship situation.
First, you might think there is no way your child can ever resolve the argument on his own. However, he’s learning how to think as he goes every day through life, and you don’t want to stop him from doing that.
If you teach him to understand how people think and deal with conflict, he will learn important skills that last a lifetime.
Now let’s discuss some pointers on how to help your child handle a fight with friends.
- Let them cool down
- Listen with the intent to understand, not determine the right answer
- Give supportive statements
- Respect the friendship
1. Let them cool down
Sometimes, your child will come to you with a problem right after it happens, and he’ll be all worked up about it. Part of being a good parent is realizing that your child is frustrated and doesn’t need you to get even more frustrated with him.
Let him know that he can take his time to think about what happened and what his position on the situation is. If he’s willing to share, let him know you are there for him if he needs to talk.
2. Listen with the intent to understand, not determine the right answer
How do two friends get along? They listen and understand one another. One might reply with their opinion on the situation and then hear out the other person’s opinion too.
What happens when there is no compromise? They fall out (or fight). If you want to help your child learn how to resolve a fight with friends, he needs to learn how each person hears and understands others.
He may have already learned this in school, but there are still things he can do on his own too.
When you listen, avoid judging the other person. That way, your child knows you respect the friendship. Also, don’t interrupt him while he’s talking because it makes him feel devalued and unimportant.
Finally, don’t ask leading questions such as “Did you mess up?” or “What was your problem?” When you let your child speak, he can choose how to phrase things and what to emphasize.
He knows the best way of putting it because he is the one experiencing the problems.
3. Give supportive statements
When your child is thinking about his words and phrases, he needs to know that you believe him and are standing by him.
The best way to do that is to give him a positive statement, even before he has finished talking.
For example, “I know you didn’t mean that about John. He’s my best friend too. We helped each other with our homework last night.
I saw you talked about it this morning on the bus, and you said it was an honest mistake.”
4. Respect the friendship
Even though your child’s friend may be trying to put both sides of the story out there, your child doesn’t need to agree. If he doesn’t agree, it shows they are learning an important skill—they can work together and think on their feet.
Remember, you may not always know what the right thing is to do when it comes to a friendly fight. That’s why you shouldn’t take sides on this issue.
The more your child learns about the value of friendships, the more he will want to keep them strong. He may not always resolve the argument, but trust that he can learn how to deal with them better.
You can also encourage him to be sensitive in his language and tone if he has a problem. Relating the problem to you, using harsh words, or bursting into tears only makes it worse for everyone.
How Do I Make My Child Understand that It’s Not Good To Fight With Friends?
- Acknowledge that everyone fights
- Let your child be angry – just not at you or himself
- Tell your child what she did is not okay
- Always remember that he is a good person
- Point out that he isn’t alone
- Assure your child you understand his problem and will help him solve it
- Be sure to model good behavior in front of your children
1. Acknowledge that everyone fights.
Arguments are a normal part of human relationships. When you acknowledge this to your child, you permit him to have them without also feeling like it’s a conflict to talk about his problems with you.
He might not think he is capable of resolving the argument by himself, so helping him understand that this is natural and all people fight their friends can give him the confidence he needs to learn those skills.
2. Let your child be angry – just not at you or himself.
It can be hard for your child to ask for your support when he’s feeling bad about himself. It’s important to let him vent his anger, but don’t take it personally.
If you or your child feel attacked, you won’t be able to discuss the problem with each other. Think about how you would feel if your friend had an argument and got all upset with both you and himself.
You would think they didn’t want to be with you anymore.
3. Tell your child what she did is not okay.
Adults sometimes tend to forget how much it hurts to hear harsh words from friends because they can’t stay mad at them for long, so it doesn’t seem as bad.
Your child will need a consistent reminder that his actions are not okay and that you don’t accept them or him.
4. Always remember that he is a good person.
So many adults can forget this because there is so much pressure placed on children to be perfect or to always be doing what’s best. Your child has made a mistake, but it’s not an indication of him as a whole person, and it doesn’t change your feelings for him.
Remember that his actions are his, and he will learn from them at some point in the future, but you can always love him as he is right now.
5. Point out that he isn’t alone.
Some children get so frustrated when their friends have arguments that they feel like they are the only ones in the world who are having a problem.
They can get upset thinking that everyone else just thinks they are bad. This can make them feel awful or give them a sense of superiority over their friends and even other people in general, which is not a good thing.
6. Assure your child you understand his problem and will help him solve it.
Your child must know you are there to listen and will help him through his problem. Your encouragement and support will make him feel a lot better.
7. Be sure to model good behavior in front of your children.
Your children watch you more than anyone else, so you must show them what it looks like to handle a fight healthily.
They love you, so their behavior is affected by the example you set because they love and trust you.
Parents shouldn’t be afraid to talk about emotions with their children. Emotions are a natural part of life and healthy ways to express them will help your child learn how to handle them as they grow.
Although it can sometimes be hard, calmly discussing problems with your children will make it easier for them to accept and understand them when they occur in the future.
Should you have other suggestions, please leave us a comment below.
Who am I? A Montessori educator.
What a pleasure to recognize and interpret each child’s needs!
How exciting to help children become self-reliant and support them in their process of self-development.
I am also truly passionate about guiding adults in building their relationship with children.