With the beginning of the school year, your little one may have been running home and telling you about what they and their pals were up to in school in a high-speed babble.
But sometimes it isn’t always sunshine and rainbows with their friends and you may find yourself in a sticky situation where you have to teach your child to be self-assertive during conflict, while still being mindful of their feelings. SmartParents spoke with Dr Hana Ra Adams, counsellor at the German European School Singapore for advice for when your child is caught in the middle of a squabble with friends.
Teach your young one that everyone involved needs to understand what the argument is about. Remind your child of the importance of talking about how they feel and also listen to the other person and use empathy to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and try to see things from their point of view. (Your child may need your help in doing that part… Children have much less experience in empathising). Using “make believe” scenarios will help your child understand better, for example, talk and help your child to imagine how frustrated their friend/sibling was when he felt left out of the game.
To listen actively
Teach your child to give the speaker their full attention. Teach by example and give them eye contact and show them you are listening by nodding your head or repeating back what you’ve heard.
To avoid making matters worse
Teach your child to exercise self-restraint and not to react negatively to a conflict because it will only make things worse. Ask your child how he would feel if someone used a put-down on them (such as “you’re so stupid!” or any other nasty phrase). Would saying such a thing help or make the situation worse? Bubs may not master it overnight so remember to exercise patience. Go, mums and dads!
Even though your child may be feeling frustrating in the midst of a quarrel with a pal, help him/her understand that working together with their friend through a conflict is the best solution. One conflict doesn’t have to mean the friendship is over. By working together, they can build on positive strategies and find solutions together.