Yesterday I was with a group of mom friends–all 7 of us have 2-year-olds, and we routinely pack into one person’s living room. A skirmish broke out over a Buzz Lightyear (which my son calls “helicopter man”). He didn’t want to share it and, with his little buddy closing in on him, he threw it into a “safe zone” on my lap. Next came yelling, some very sad faces, and us parents trying to prompt our kids to say the right things.
My expectations were so unrealistic. We think our kids should share their toys–the objects they’re enamored with in that moment–but why would they want to do that? It’s like if I came up to you and said, “okay, you can play with that iPad for two minutes. Then it’s my turn.”
The topic of this week’s Science of Kids column is conflict resolution–tips for how to handle it, and what to say when things heat up between kids. As they grow, the conflicts get more emotional and touchy. The older our children get, the more thinking and problem solving we have to do. The thing is, I don’t believe the goal is for our kids to just be the nice guy.
Not sharing, yelling at a best preschool pal (and then loving him the next minute), collapsing on the ground in a puddle of tears–these are all products of the way a little kid’s brain works.
Our goal isn’t to make conflict go away, it’s to help our kids learn from it. We all (adults included) need to know how to fight productively, get angry and work though it, etc.. We don’t just want our kids to be obedient little people-pleasers, we want them to express themselves.
Read more about conflict resolution here. And please share your take on what to do–what works, or doesn’t work for you and your child.
More from this author: