When kids are young, they have disagreements with other kids for a myriad of reasons. Maybe they haven’t mastered sharing, or their impulse management isn’t well developed or they believe they are right and the other party is wrong. As kids grow, conflict with others teaches them skills to learn to compromise, forgive and move on.
Generally kids don’t hold grudges, so a child they didn’t want to be friends with last week, may be their best buddy this week.
There are some parents out there that get too involved in their children’s disputes and end up becoming a greater part of the problem. I think that unless a child is being bullied, that with some guidance, kids should be allowed to sort out their differences without too much interference from adults. It seems to me that when parents get involved, the heat of the argument escalates and unlike kids, adults can hold grudges for a long time! So you find the kids have made up and are happy again, whereas their parents end up being the ones holding onto resentment.
Unfortunately, bullying is a grey area. I know a parent who once reported to her child’s school that her child was bullied, as she was not invited to another child’s birthday party. It wasn’t as though she was the only child in the class not invited; only a small group of the birthday child’s closest friends were included. The school didn’t want to know about the complaint, but became involved as they have a duty of care to deal with ‘bullying’. The ironic thing is that the reason the kid wasn’t invited to the party was that she had been mean (aka bullying) the birthday child. When I heard of this debacle, all I could think was, ‘Those in glass houses, shouldn’t throw stones!’
Kids need to learn resilience and they won’t do that if they run to their parents to solve every conflict in their life. Parents can help best if they provide calm, logical advice on how to resolve the problem. Of course, parents need to use discretion, because if their child is being seriously harmed, then of course they need to step in to protect their child. Knowing where a childish spat finishes and bullying begins is a hard thing to define, but we can’t wrap our kids in cotton wool and expect them to never experience disappointment and disagreements.
For conflict resolution, our kids’ school teaches GOMO (Get Over it, Move On!), which I think is sage advice for kids and, maybe more importantly, parents too!
(Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, freedigitalphotos.net)