From Parenting 24/7: University of Illinois Extension


Helping Children to Get Along

Posted , updated Mar 02, 2006.

Helping Children to Get Along

Everyone gets into conflicts, including young children. A goal parents have for their children is that they learn to get along with others. Families are a great place for children to learn to get along.

At times parents can stay close while doing other tasks. At other times they must step in with action. Squabbles can erupt very quickly.

Set Rules and Limits

  • Use words to fix problems (not fists).
  • We do not hurt each other (hit, bite, or call names).
  • Ask before using items that belong to others.

Children learn by repetition and will learn to say the rules as we ask and remind them. “What is the rule about hurting? Ignoring teasing and bullying behavior gives a message it is okay. Most children will push till they know the limits we set for them.

Ways To Encourage Getting Along And Problem Solving

Work together toward a common goal

  • Set up pretend play (a house, school, or store). Have children consider the needs of each role.
  • Build together with blocks. Ask, “How can we make the tower taller? Steadier? With roads for cars, etc.”
  • Solve a treasure hunt. Figure out clues together.
  • Make some chores a team effort (rake leaves, fold towels, unload the dishwasher).Decide together what each will do.

Provide space where children can play alone and relax.

Provide opportunities for children to help each other (push a stroller, get diapers, help pick up other’s toys), and say “thanks”.

Model handling strong emotions. Use a calm voice. Delay talking about things when you are upset. “I’m upset. I can’t talk about this right now. We will talk about it later.”

Teach ways to handle anger. “Walk away or hug your bear until you are calm. Use words or ask for help”

Resolve conflicts without violence

  • Separate children till they cool down before talking with them. Keep them in separate rooms.
  • Give choices. “Take turns or find a way to play together. If not, you need to find something else to do.”
  • Remove a problem toy. “The broom is not a gun.”
  • Ask for their ideas. “Fighting in the car is a problem. What would help you?” Sometimes they have good suggestions.
  • Provide duplicates of favorite toys.
When children learn to solve problems together, have clear limits and positive ways to handle conflicts, these skills will last a lifetime.

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