Arguing. Quarreling. Yelling. Door slamming. Crying. Hurt feelings. Arguments are a big part of why kids can’t get along and how their friendships break up. Of course, conflict is also a part of life. In fact, a national survey found that 43 percent of middle school students said they have conflicts with other kids at least one or more times a day.
As parents, one of the most essential friendship quotient builder skills you need to teach your child is how to handle conflicts so he can survive the social jungle. Learning how to deal with all those problems that crop up is a big part of growing up and an essential life skill. The key point is that not only must your child learn how to solve problems, but do so in a peaceful, calm way so that all the kids involved feel like they’ve won. That’s called a win-win scenario and it’s the best way to reduce arguments and restore friendships. Doing so will not only dramatically boost your child’s friendship quotient, but also improve harmony on the home front. And wouldn’t that be ever be a plus?
- Be sympathetic. Arguments amongst friends are tough for everyone – but especially so for kids. Chances are that either your child, the friend, or both are hurting. Keep in mind, your goal isn’t to solve the problem – that’s up to them–but you can acknowledge the hurt. “I can see why you’re upset.” “Arguments are never fun. They get everybody hurting.”
- Teach kids to call for time outs. Even a few seconds can be enough to stop a big quarrel so help your child come up with a few things to back off from an argument ready to blow. “When you feel like you and your friend are starting to argue, try to cool things off. You could say: ‘You know I’m too mad to talk right now.’ ‘Give me a minute to cool off.’ ‘I need to take a walk.’ ‘Let’s go shoot some hoops.’”
- Stress compromising. The best way for kids to learn how to get along is by watching others. So be the model! Anytime there is a conflict (which game to play, hich TV show to watch, whose house to go visit) between kids, the skill of compromising can be a goldmine. “You choose this time. I choose next time.” “Let’s find a TV show we can both agree on.” “Let’s play Monopoly for 30 minutes then Clue for 30 minutes.” Model it until your kids can pick up on it.
- Help them work it out themselves. Ask the kid involved what they plan to do to solve “their” problem. After all, real life practice is the best way for kids to learn skills. “I know you two can solve this. If you need me, I’m in the other room, but don’t leave the table until you can work this out fairly.” “Let’s see if you two can work this through calmly for three minutes. You’ve been friends far too long not to solve this.”