When Children Fight With Their Friends

Is your child on the outs with his friends? As tempting as it is, jumping in to solve her tiffs isn’t the best solution.

When our children have a fight with one of their friends, it’s very tempting to want to step in and wave a magic wand to make it all better. After all, it’s difficult to see your child hurt. Of course if a child is being physically and verbally abused, we need to step in, perhaps by speaking to a teacher or parent. But if the hurt is due to a tiff between a couple of friends, our best reaction is to simply listen says pediatrician Dr. Kathryn Leonard. “I think so often a child will come home from school and tell you of something awful a friend did to them and our response will be to tell them to forget about it and that this person wasn’t a good friend anyway. It’s an attempt to make a child feel better. It’s more important to be noncommittal and ask about what happened, how they feel, and to just be on the receiving end of things. There is no way a parent can help them feel better by telling them not to feel bad.”

Parent educator and author of Character is Key, Sara Dimerman agrees. “If a child has been hurt by one of his friends at school, a parent shouldn’t immediately jump in and try to change the situation, instead they should focus on their own child’s thoughts and feelings, help them problem solve, and see what their options are in dealing with the situation the next time.”

Michelle Borba, author of Esteem Builders adds that when a child is having trouble making or keeping friends, parents may need to hone their detective skills to “see if you can pinpoint where the problem is. So often they’re saying that they’re having problems with friends. This is too general. See if there’s a specific problem like sharing or conversing. Pinpoint it and then reteach it as a skill by modeling how to do that one area. ”

Finally, it really helps if children know that no matter what storm they’re weathering at school, they are 100% supported by their parents on the home front says Dimmerman. “It’s always important for children to know, especially when they’re about to go into grade one, that they have a really open and good relationship with their parents to talk about what’s happened.”


Adapted from The Parent Report Radio Show. Any advice or information contained herein should never be a substitute for professional and/or medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. For more information please review Terms of Service.

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