I have two teen girls and over the years, the conflicts have been plentiful. From conflicts with their peers to boyfriend drama, they have been through it all. Sometimes, I stay on the sidelines and let them resolve whatever issues they're having. But, I have intervened when the problems have escalated to a point that I felt was out of control.
As parents, we want our children to eventually be confident in their ability to stand up for themselves in a mature way. We often have more of a “hands on” approach when they are very young, which slowly turns into “hands off” encouragement as they grow.
When our children have conflicts, it is natural to want to rush in, defend them, and solve their problems, but is that always the right way? How do we know when to get involved, and when to hold back and let them work the problems out on their own? We need a balance and here is how to figure it out.
Let Kids Resolve Their Arguments When Possible
It can be difficult to do, but when you see your child involved in an argument, try leaving them to work it out on their own if at all possible. Kids are often better peacemakers than we give them credit for. Sometimes we rush in to solve the dispute, before realizing that our kids have already worked it out and made up.
When we allow our children to work out their disagreements with their friends, as well as kids they have just met in playground and other situations, it gives them confidence. Our children need to know they are capable of talking it out and coming to a solution. This can teach them to compromise, and gives them valuable social skills.
Know When to Intervene
When you see an argument going on, standing at a distance is fine, but watch closely. What if your little one is arguing with another child and it suddenly turns into a physical fight? This is one of the times you should step in. We need to be available to help our children resolve their differences in a non-physical way.
If your child is on the receiving end of the push or kick, watch the other parent to see if they are about to come along and coach their child on how to apologize to yours. If yours was the aggressor, be the one to encourage your child to make amends.
If your child has been hurt and the other parent doesn’t seem to care, or is not around, it is acceptable for you to let the other child know that he hurt yours, and ask him to apologize. If your son (or daughter) has been hurt and has a difficult time standing up for himself, now is a great opportunity for you to coach your child in how to say something like “That hurt me. Please stop.”
If you didn’t see the situation happen until it’s too late, try to remain neutral and find out exactly what happened. Try not to take either extreme of always seeing your child as the victim, or always placing the blame on them. Our children need to know we are their advocates and that we will always be fair in how we assist them.
If you see bullying happening, no matter whether your child is giving or receiving it, always get involved. Bullying is not to be taken lightly, and adults must do everything in their power to prevent it from happening, whether that is removing your child from the situation, or alerting an authority if it is happening at school, etc.
Parenting can bring with it many confusing moments, but there are principles that are helpful in many situations. By applying the above thoughts, you can confidently determine whether you should or shouldn’t intervene in your child’s conflicts.
My two oldest girls are 18 and 14. They have been through many situations that have strengthened them because they resolved them on their own. They have also experienced some situations that clearly shown them that when they need mom, she's there. I have their back. Always! To teach them, to protect them and to love them!
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