When children are fighting over a toy, we often find ourselves in the middle of arguments, trying to figure out who had it first or whose turn it is. This is pretty difficult to do from the outside, and makes kids dependent on us to solve their problems for them.
Instead, we can let go of control and give it to them:
Move close to offer support and make sure no one gets hurt.
If one of the children tries to hit the other, gently hold their hands while telling them “I won’t let you hit” or invite them to hit the couch or the floor if they’re feeling frustrated
Then, calmly narrate what is happening as non-judgmentally as possible (e.g. “You’re both holding tightly to the red trike. You want to use it at the same time!”).
By doing this, we make room for the kids to build their social skills and get comfortable navigating disagreements.
We give them an opportunity to learn about emotions and empathy.
As Janet Lansbury explains, sportscasting communicates trust and belief in our children. By sportscasting we are essentially saying, “I’m here and I support you, but feel confident that you can handle this situation.”
Want to learn more about these strategies and the role conflict plays in development? Check out our course, Crucial Conflict: Why Kids Struggle To Share & Why We Should Let Them.