Fighting kids can be one of the most challenging things to deal with as parents. I know with our own daughter it can be hard to know how to manage it when things get physical between her and another child.
The tendency to want to intervene can be overwhelming. But is this the right move? The NY Times – which now has a section on Mindfulness with Kids – published a short post on how to approach a situation like this mindfully.
The post is about fighting among siblings but I think it’s equally relevant for fights that break out with other kids.
The post points out that fighting among kids is perfectly natural, even healthy, and it’s part of how they set boundaries, express desires and learn to share things. It encourages you to learn to take a deep a breath and encourage your kids to do the same and to practice empathy – trying to understand why they’re angry.
Don’t deny kids their anger
A good friend of ours has taught me a lot in this respect. Whenever our daughters come in to conflict she’s very quick to talk to the kids about the emotional drivers behind the fighting and to validate these emotions. She’ll say, ‘Are you feeling angry because she took that from you? Of course, that’s totally natural.’
I’ve tried to use her example myself and when I do I find that my daughter resolves her upset so much quicker. Kids – like adults – have a strong need to be seen and if you deny them their own emotional life (‘Don’t be angry!’ ‘Stop crying!’) you’re essentially refusing to see them.
The post also stresses the importance of gratitude. Don’t forget how truly precious your kids are. Even when they’re driving you up the wall. Challenging, I know. But what would life be without its challenges!