Podcast Episode 160: Kids and Conflicts; How to Help – Part 3 in the Open-Ended Play Series

Welcome! To listen to today’s episode, scroll all the way down to the bottom of this post and hit the triangular “play” button. Enjoy the show!

Does your child ever get into arguments, verbal or otherwise? What’s your instinct when this happens – do you want to jump in and smooth everything over?

That’s not an unusual reaction, because we parents really hate it when our kids fight!

In this Just You and Me episode, we dig into why “smoothing everything over” is detrimental to our children’s development, and what to do instead.

Click weturnedoutokay.com/160 for show notes and key links, including to the wonderful conversation I had while sitting out on the playground – where kids played as we spoke – at Miss Tanya’s Nursery School!

Interestingly, how we arrange the spaces we live in can change our kids’ behavior. I first learned this in college, working towards my degree in child development, that the organization of a classroom has a huge influence on the behavior of the children.

As Lisa Daly, early childhood professor and guest on a recent We Turned Out Okay episode puts it: “when they don’t have anything to do, of course they’re going to get in trouble… What do you expect them to do on asphalt playground where they can only ride a bicycle around the loop two times… And then they have to get off and give it to someone else?”

Along the same lines, if we can anticipate potential arguments, we can then ask the children for solutions. Often, their ideas are better than anything we might have come up with!

Miriam Beloglovsky, also an early childhood professor and guest on the same recent We Turned Out Okay episode, shares a story of a little boy who built his own swing based on the question “what do you need (if you want to swing, and all the swings are full)?”
Miriam ends by saying “… So that begins to show you that they do know what they want, they are also very capable of finding solutions to solve their needs… It’s up to us adults to take the time to question, and ask them “what else do you need?”

Miriam also shares: “This idea was first introduced early on by Jean Piaget: through discourse, through arguments, is where children enter that learning space.”

When they encounter a setback or get into a conflict with somebody else, there is lots of learning there!

Understandably, we parents want no conflict, we want everything to be smooth for our kids. But that will damage them, and rob them of important opportunities – both for friends, and for learning.


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Key Links:

Click here to find out more about the Ninja Parenting Community, especially if you’re worried about some new behavior your child is exhibiting (whether aggressive, excessively sad, or passive), or even if your child is just driving you nuts.

Click here for episode 152, my conversation with college professors and authors Miriam Beloglovsky and Lisa Daly.

For my conversation with nursery school owner Tanya Trainor – which took place on the playground of one of her facilities – click here.

Click here for my conversation with Jessica Lahey, author of The Gift of Failure and a mom just like the rest of us, who’s not always in love with letting natural consequences happen, but who knows that that’s the way it’s got to be if we want well-adjusted and happy kids.