GROWING KIDS – Human interaction is not always positive. There will be the horseplay and the name-calling that are as common to the playground as team play and laughter are. On the playground, laughter and tears occur with about equal frequency.
When children fight, the first thing to remember is that children are more forgiving and easier to pacify than adults. Fights among children, if dealt with in a positive way, evaporate and are forgotten as quickly as they erupt, so do not worry if your child winds up in a fight with a playmate, sibling, cousin or classmate.
When kids get into fights, this is their way of experiencing discord—whether it is over who gets to use the big red ball or over who ate the last chocolate chip cookie. Like many of a child’s life experiences, learning to resolve discord is a hands-on activity that is best learned by going through it rather than just avoiding it.
If your child winds up in a fight, be fair. Ask what happened and let your child talk through the experience. After he has told you what happened, ask the other child or children or children involved in the fracas to tell you their side of the story. This will enable you and your child to get the real reasons behind the conflict, which is more important to resolving situation.
If it is necessary—as in first fights or name-calling—call a time-out and have the kids stay in separate areas until they cool down and can talk rationally and reasonably. Then sit down and talk.
Find out what it was that triggered the fight and help your child work out for himself what happened and where he and other parties involved contributed to the conflict that grew into a fight.
If the fight occurred in school, get the input of the teachers and guidance counselors, if they have any and include it in your discussion with your child.
Once you have all the facts, work out with your child how he can avoid another fight. This is where open and honest lines of communication between parents and their children are important
Teach your child the importance of making apologies, if he was at fault, and of accepting apologies if the other party in the fight was at fault and is making an apology.
The next step after dealing with the conflict just past is to ask your child what lessons he has learned from the fight. This would also be good time to ask your child what ideas he may have for avoiding fights in the future and to share your own insights on matter as well.
If the fight is a result of bullying, it may be good to ask for a parent-teacher meeting at school or with the parent of the bully if the fight did not happen in school. During this meeting, you can discuss the issue of bullying with the adults and, together, get the children to resolve the issue with each other. The adults can also find ways to nip any future bullying in the bud.
Get to the root of the bullying—it can be as simple as your child being smaller or different from the others or it may be as complex as the bully coming from a poor home environment. While there is little a parent can do about the existing reasons for bullying, you can help your child understand these reasons and find ways to either deal with or avoid the bully.