Parenting Coach

Practical ideas for social, emotional and behavioral challenges

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Be ready to step in—and out.

What you can do

Keep a close watch on your child’s playdates and other interactions with peers. Try to let the kids settle conflicts on their own. But be ready to step in if needed.

Stop any aggressive behaviors immediately and give one or both children a brief time-out. Then help each child identify what emotion prompted the fight. But make it clear that physical attacks are never acceptable ways to express feelings.

What you can say

“Jacob, I can’t let you do that. Words and actions that hurt are not acceptable. After you tell me what happened, I will ask you to figure out a way to resolve this. If the fighting continues, I’ll have to separate you two for a while, and then I’ll decide what to do.”

Why this will help

Even though it’s a good idea to keep an eye on everything children do during playdates, small squabbles seldom last long, and kids often can work out their own solutions.

However, if the fighting continues, a time-out can help your child switch gears and give you the chance to step aside and not get caught up in the struggle. A time-out can defuse and redirect an escalating situation.

Talking afterwards about the flare-up and asking your child how else he could have handled the situation will help him learn to manage his behavior next time.

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