Source: Beyond Words/Simon & Schuster, used with permission
Conflicts are common in children’s friendships, but they don’t have to mean the end of a relationship. Here are three ways kids can move past disagreements.
1) Ask questions
When someone disagrees with us, it’s tempting to just argue harder for our point of view. But arguments that sound like “Yes-No-Yes-No” go nowhere.
Asking questions can help kids understand better what the other person wants and why.
Asking questions beginning with “What” or “How” can help children see their friend’s point of view. “What do you think?” “What do you want to do?” “How do you think we should do it?” “What do you like about that one?” “What don’t you like about these ones?” Questions like these express caring about the other child’s opinions. They can open the door to compromise or make it easier for your child to go along with what the friend wants.
Warn your child to be careful about asking friends “Why” questions those can sound critical. Asking, “Why did you do such a stupid thing?!?!” won’t inspire a warm response from a friend.
2) Speak up
Sometimes children fume silently and then explode. Neither is helpful.
Instead, kids need to be able to ask clearly and kindly for what they want. Using “I” statements can help. When your child says something that begins with “I think…” or “I want…”, it helps the friend understand your child’s viewpoint.
Explain to your child that the friend isn’t a mind reader. Although it may seem like the friend should just know what your child wants, it’s kinder and more helpful to explain directly. Adding a “please” also makes it easier for the friend to listen.
3) Let it go
We, adults, tend to want to talk everything out, but kids often resolve conflicts by just separating for a few minutes, hours, or days, and then coming together again and just being nice to each other.
Everyone makes mistakes, and part of being a good friend is being able to forgive and move on.
For kids, making up with a friend after an argument may be as simple as just offering a friendly greeting the next day, giving the friend a compliment, or just sitting together at lunch or playing together at recess.