Watching children interact, connect and play together is truly inspiring. But what to do when there is a playground bust up? There is a key lesson to help our kids on the playground and in life. We can teach our children to play nicely, share their toys, be kind to others, but who wants their child to be a pushover? Not me and certainly not when he grows up.
You’re chatting with your friend and responsibly keeping your child safely in your sights when you hear him say “Stop I don’t like it” just the way you taught him. Then the other child’s whiny teasy voice says,“Stoooopppp I don’t liiiiiike it.” You are devastated, one second before you were thinking, “Yes! He’s using his words.
But now what? At this point, we probably have 4 choices:
- We can step in and help the kids resolve the situation;
- we can recommend that our child walks away;
- we can leave them to figure it all out; or
- we can pray that the other mum will step in and solve it all. (Option 4 is probably never going to happen!)
The age and the skills of our child will determine how much we need to intervene and assist. Chances are, we would want the kids to give each other one more opportunity to play nicely. I interviewed Heather Shumaker, author of “It’s OK Not to Share and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids” during the Raising Girls Telesummit and she had this to say. She said she would ask both kids what was bothering them and then paraphrase the issue with an “It sounds like you really want Peter to stop pushing you and Peter it sounds like you got frustrated when Anthony wouldn’t let you play…” She would encourage the children to agree that they would not “hit each other again,” “fight over the toy,” or “say unkind things” and then both kids would have the chance of a “do over”.
If this works, that is sensational and as the mum, you can go back to your cuppa, however if it isn’t working I believe the children need to be encouraged to do their own thing and step away from each other for the time being.
This playground event presents us with a learning opportunity. White Ribbon emphasises stopping the violence against women and Dr Phil talks about ending the silence on domestic violence. As parents our role is to teach our children to protect themselves. Encourage your child to play nicely, to give the other child a second chance but then to walk away if it ends badly.
Our children should know and believe it is NOT okay to be mistreated by others – be they friends or family, we need to encourage them to walk away. If the other child is able to play nicely and IF your child wants to, they can play again tomorrow. We want our kids to prioritise their safety and happiness.
Teach your child to stand up for themselves in the playground so that your teenagers and young adults have the skills to assert and protect themselves. Give them the conviction that they deserve to be treated well and encourage them to demand exactly that!