This is the question we typically ask of our children and their friends when they argue and quarrel about such small things! But in the eyes of a child, small things are big things. “He took my toy!” “She’s kicking me!” How do we handle these types of situations effectively while teaching children how to get along in a healthy way? There are ways children can learn the skills of getting along and it isn’t as difficult is it may seem. First and foremost, remain patient when in a situation where your children are arguing with each other or with friends. If you stay calm, cool, and collected, children will see this and model what you practice in the long run. Don’t get angry like them because this will just fuel the fire and children need to learn by parents’ actions, not just what parents say. Be a good role model – Your children learn from you! This will also benefit the whole family dynamic.
Learn why the kiddies are arguing. Hear both sides of the story so you can judge fairly and come up with the healthiest solution possible. Asking them for ideas on how to correct the issue is helpful so children can learn how to “Stop and Think.” They will feel that they are being heard and that their feelings and opinions matter. If either child is too upset to explain their side of the story, give them time to cool off before addressing the issue at hand.
Offer options. Ask the children what could be done to make both sides happy. Again, let them be heard – this will automatically calm both children down. If either child chooses to not offer a suggestion, then start throwing suggestions out at them in a firm and authoritative yet loving manner.
Once a decision is made, remind the children that it’s important to handle disagreements in a calm and healthy manner. Let them know disagreements will happen again but it is how they rectify the situation that matters most. Explain that choosing anger is not going to get anyone very far – if anything, it will just make the situation worse. The motto, “Treat others like you want to be treated,” rings very true in arguments with young ones and, over time, this will sink in and they’ll be able to handle disagreements in a much more calm and respectful manner, with open communication. If either child does not agree to the decision made by you and still chooses to be upset and angry, a time out may be needed and the toy or game the children were playing with needs to be taken away or whatever they were arguing about needs to be addressed further.
Bumps in the road will happen as children learn to settle arguments in a healthy way – You’ve got this, parents! Stay strong but loving!