When children spend time together it is almost impossible for them to go the whole time without a fight or argument breaking out. Whether they are toddlers or teenagers, being together with friends means that disagreements will inevitably occur. But what can you do to help? Well, here are some suggestions on how to handle hitting, biting or fighting during a playdate.
1.Anticipate what might happen. This might sound like you should be a psychic parent, but that’s not exactly what we’re talking about. Every parent knows their child’s trigger points, whether it is a favorite food, toy, or movie. Whatever that trigger is, try and anticipate it and do what you need to to avoid it. If they have a favorite toy they don’t want anyone else to play with, then put it away so they won’t be confronted with sharing it. Make sure there is more than one package of fruit snacks left in the cupboard. Being proactive is the best way to avoid potential problems before they erupt.
2.Talk to your child before the playdate. If there have been previous incidents where your child has gotten into arguments or fighting matches with other children, then don’t let them arrange a playdate until you have talked with them about their behavior. While no child is perfect, there are certain boundaries that need to be respected when friends come over to play at the house. Remind them that there are consequences to fighting and you will be forced to end the playdate early if they can’t come to an agreement or work out their problems.
3.Don’t hesitate to intervene. If the argument begins to get physical then don’t hesitate to intervene before someone really gets hurt. If there are objects being used for fighting or hitting then take them away immediately; you don’t ever have to give a warning if the safety of another child or your child is being threatened. The important thing is getting everyone calmed down and keeping everyone safe. Once you have put that fire out then you can decide what you should do next.
4.Working out problems. Some parents may believe that intervention is the only way to handle fighting, but in all actuality children need to learn how to work out their problems. It is in a child’s best interest when they learn how to share and compromise on activities they want to do. They begin to see that other people may not like the same things they like to do and will gain an understanding for different points of view and different opinions. Always try and stay on neutral ground as hard as that may be with your own child. Children can sense if you are taking sides and that will only make the fight worse. To coin the popular phrase, “it takes two to tango” or in other words a fight can’t take place with just one person.
5.Redirection. This especially works well with younger children but can be useful with older children as well. If things seem to be escalating and no one is coming to any sort of agreement or compromise then try to redirect their attention somewhere else. Think of another activity they can do or a different toy they can play with. If that doesn’t help then starting from scratch and getting something totally new and fun out may be the only hope to forget about the fighting.
Since fighting happens so frequently with children it is important to know how to handle the fighting during a playdate to make it more successful.