Peer to Peer Problems and Playground Politics (page 2)

Peer to Peer Problems and Playground Politics

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Updated on Sep 23, 2008

Read About It
And as with many situations with young children, books are an excellent way to give kids a script of sorts for proper behavior.  Reading stories is an age appropriate way to give children the language they need to deal with their own conflicts, as well as labels for the emotions they are feeling. Try these children’s books that deal directly with common childhood problems:

  • Simon’s Hook by Karen Gedig Burnett, deals directly with teasing and put-downs
  • Three Monsters  by David McKee, a book about acceptance and sharing
  • The Little Giant  by Sergio Ruzzier, a story about peace, friendship, and differences
  • Trouble in the Barker's Class, by Tomie de Paola, a tale about a class bully
  • T-Rex Is Missing! by Tomie dePaola, a lesson about jumping to conclusions

Frame It
Parents need to be aware of age-appropriate expectations for behavior so they can explain things to their kids. When another child acts in a less-than-ideal way, explain to your child that everyone has things he's still working on, and that it's a process that takes time. “It’s important that your child understands that the undesirable behavior, like teasing or not sharing, is the other child’s problem not his,” Armistead says. Point out that the other child is still learning how to behave. Maybe they haven’t learned how to share yet, but they will. Don't refer to the other child in a harsh or negative tone. That will only make the problem seem more unsolvable.

Know the Lingo
Don’t just wait until your child comes home with a problem to start thinking about conflict solutions. Be proactive and you might even be able to ward off some potential playground problems. Most schools offer some kind of school-wide character development or conflict resolution program. Find out the buzzwords that your child’s teacher uses to handle conflict. Then work them into your family conversations at home. This will give your child more practice with the phrases and help her to access them when she needs to. Just don't be surprised when she uses some of this new vocabulary on you!

Brainstorm Solutions
Armistead believes in a 3-step formula for resolving kid conflict. The first step is for parents to acknowledge that they hear their child is upset and communicate that the problem is solvable. The second step is identifying the problem from your child's perspective. That brings us to the third step: empowerment. What are the choices? What can your child do now to solve the issue? Armistead suggests using an analogy to a board game: what's the next move. Try to elicit three solutions that might be acceptable to your child, then ask him to pick the best move.

Enlist Help

At this age, problems can generally be solved with a little help from you and your child’s teacher. But if the conflict persists or the other child’s aggression seems to escalate, it may be necessary to involve the school counselor and possibly the other child’s parents. If that is the case you should always initiate this through the teacher first. You should never attempt to make contact with the other child’s family on your own.

It can be difficult as a parent to watch your child endure the inevitable aches and pains of life. But as difficult as it may be, it's a part of kindergarten development, and part of life. “Learning to handle problems at a young age prepares children to hand problems they will inevitably encounter as adults," Burnett says. "The more we help them learn to navigate around or through these bumps, the happier our children will be in the long run.”

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