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Fights with Friends

When your child has a friend over, and disagreements arise, they can both say cruel and hurtful things to each other.

Kids are sometimes honest to the extreme. If your son thinks his friend is acting like a jerk, he’ll voice that opinion without a thought to the way that it sounds. If your daughter thinks her friend is purposefully cheating, she’ll let the kid know in no uncertain terms what she thinks of that behavior.

In addition, kids want what they want, when they want it, and are often quick to try to force a friend to ‘do it their way.’ Most children will learn how to be tactful, and how to compromise and negotiate, but it takes time, experience, and direction from an adult.

First, listen from afar. Often children will work through a verbal disagreement on their own. Step in only if the argument continues on a negative note with no sense of resolution in sight. If the kids are good friends, who usually get along well, but are having a minor argument, use distraction to end it. Simply walk in the room, pretend you’re unaware of what’s going on, and ask who wants a snack, or if they’re ready to play outside. Sometimes a change of scenery is all that’s needed to end the bickering.

If you think it’s time to interrupt the argument, don’t take sides, and don’t ask what’s happening. If they’re both really angry, separate the kids for 10 or 15 minutes. Let them know that you think they need a few minutes apart. Depending on the children’s personalities, and the severity of the argument, you can then either talk to each child separately, or bring them together to discuss the situation. Ask them to each state in one sentence what the problem is. Then ask for ideas on how to solve it.

You might find it helps to give the kids a choice. As an example, tell them that they can work out the problem and play together nicely, or they’ll have to end the playdate. They will typically choose to work it out. Ask if they would like your help to resolve the issue. If they do, don’t place blame and don’t focus on finding out ‘who’s right.’ Instead, let each have a turn talking and direct the conversation towards finding a solution.


Elizabeth is the author of Perfect Parenting. For more information, visit (Excerpted with permission by NTC/Contemporary Publishing Group Inc. from Perfect Parenting, The Dictionary of 1,000 Parenting Tips by Elizabeth Pantley, copyright 1999.)

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