Humans are social creatures. We yearn for companionship and love from people with whom we share similar interests and activities. However, not all interests may align therefore leading to conflict.
Conflict is part of human nature. However peaceful a situation is, there will always be some ideas, concepts, or actions that you are not going to gravitate towards. In a work setting, for example, your jolly coworker is very energetic and lively, but maybe one day you woke up in the wrong side of the bed and you feel very agitated, leading you to passive-aggressively ask your coworker to stop annoying you.
With this idea of conflict amongst adults, a different type of conflict may arise between children. It may be because your child got upset with their friend because their friend wouldn’t share their toy with them. Maybe your child has had a disagreement with their friend because your child is a great athlete and they keep on beating their friends in sports.
Regardless of the situation, when little Tommy or little Andrea comes back home feeling dejected and upset about their friends, it is crucial to be able to talk to your child about their social needs and problems. Children are more prone to develop negative traits such as a lack of self-confidence, social uncouthness, or distrust from bad social experiences and it is up to the parent (being YOU) to help them heal and understand the situation.
Written below are a few ways how to help your child cope with their social issues.
Listen intently and offer comfort
Listen. Like really listen. It’s easy to hear things but listening takes more effort. Take your child to a comfortable and distraction-free area in the house, (or maybe even outside like a community park) and give them your utmost attention.
Try not to interrupt, ask questions, or attempt any rude interjections while your child is talking. Let them finish what they have to say without passing any judgment yet, simply digesting and analyzing what the situation is and understanding it from their point of view.
When they have shared what they wanted to say, comfort them. If they feel like crying, let them. Crying is a healthy way of regulating emotions, or in other words, letting it all out.
What children need after a rough day with their friends is to have their parents’ give them a psychological boost.
To start, show them that you believe in them. Tell them that you think they can handle this situation; that this situation is but one of the many that they will encounter during their childhood to adulthood. Let them know that many people including you (their parents) love them and cherish them.
To add to this process, try not to vilify or talk bad things about the other party (your child’s friend that has had this friendship problem with). More often than not, they will likely become friends again so it’s never a good idea to say bad things about them just to make your child feel better.
Distractions may mean things that will divert your children’s attention from the stressful experience. Things that will keep them occupied and will help them move on from the event. Act normally, but don’t pretend as if nothing has had happened at the same time.
Normality and familiarity at the home are important at this stage as well. Show your child that a situation such as that will not be able to deter them from their normal activities. If your child is an avid movie watcher, stick with the Friday night movie time. Don’t let them dwell on the situation.
Solve the problem once everyone has calmed down
Heavy emotions make everyone make irrational decisions. Finding when that right moment is, is important as you want your child to be calm and rational as they can be when they will finally talk with their friend.
The first step is to ask your child whether or not they still want to continue the friendship they had with their friend. If they refuse, new friends may be the answer.
However, if they do want to continue, then do your best to guide them. Don’t tell them explicitly what to say to their friend, or what exactly to do. Simply guide them.
Giving your children the freedom of what and how they will try to work out a situation will help them grow into an adult who is capable of making good decisions. Just tell them to be genuine and honest with their words and actions.
Emphasize the value of friendship
Talking to your children about the true value of friendship is really important. Tell them stories about how you and your best friend met and the adventures you experienced and bonded over together. Tell them the characteristics of what makes a good friend. Ask them the things that they like about their friends and what they think their friends like about them.As much as possible, try to expose them to a variety of potential friends in various different events. Encourage your child to make different friends from different backgrounds. This will help your child to develop their social skills and be able to adjust their responses to be able to communicate effectively to people of various backgrounds, cultures, and ages.