As park weather begins and more kids start filling up the swings there will inevitably be conflict. Pushing, yelling, name calling and other behavior are bound to happen in these situations. How we deal with it will help our kids learn conflict resolution in the future.
The Boy Who Roared
Last summer I was at a park with my two boys. As I walked down from the parking area to the park, which is a long walkway, I can easily watch my children as they run to the park if I choose to walk.
This day was like many others, my boys ran ahead of me and I packed a big bag of stuff. There is also a beach so I had all kinds of snacks and toys making me a bit slower. I watched my three-year-old enter the playground area and was quickly up on the equipment, but before I got to the park he came running back to me. He explained that another boy was roaring in his face and he didn’t like it. He couldn’t go down the small slide he wanted to without encountering this boy. I mentioned to him that he could either tell the boy he didn’t like it and ask him to stop or go play somewhere else until the boy moves away from the slide. He decided to go play somewhere else.
The little boy followed.
He asked me once again what to do. Since the boy had gotten louder and more obnoxious, I told my son he should try using his words. So he said, “Please stop, I don’t like it.” You know what happened? The boy got even closer and roared even louder in his face. At this point, my attention went to his mom close by, who tried to get her son to stop. This agitated him more and he yelled even louder. My son yelled at him to stop and the mom was clearly embarrassed.
I stepped over to the mom. I told her she was doing a good job and that being loud is something that little boys do at the park. As for the personal space thing I wanted to let my son work that out if that was ok with her.
She seemed so relieved to know that I wasn’t judging her for the way her son behaved.
You know what happened while we were talking?
The boys worked it out.
My son had decided the best thing to do was to join him. So he roared back in the little boy’s face and it became a laugh fest! They played together the rest of the time. It may not work out so perfect every time, but we have had some great learning experiences from these situations.
It may not work out so well every time, but we have had some great learning experiences from these types of situations. My boys now have good tools to decide when to persist, when to ask for help and when to walk away. It’s not perfect, but I am actually grateful for the encounters they have had that help them understand conflict resolution.
I do my best not to be a helicopter mom, I want to let my boys figure out how to overcome tough things. I felt that this was definitely an age appropriate problem for him to solve on his own and he did. If I had I jumped in and told the kid to stop or redirected my son to the beach, he would have missed out on a valuable lesson.
Next time there is a misbehaving kid at the park try using it as an opportunity for them to learn how to deal with difficult people. Kids can surprise you with the ways they come up with to deal with problems.
You may be a mom who disagrees with me and doesn’t want to have to deal with misbehaving children. If this is the case, one idea would be to get there early when fewer people there. You may even want to have an alternative backup plan if you run into it. For example, had it gotten out of hand, I definitely would have had my son come build a sandcastle with me in the beach area. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to avoid these situations some days, I have had those days too.
Most importantly, we are all moms out there trying to do our best. Instead of judging other moms about their kids, let’s figure out something that works for all of us. Who knows maybe your child will find a new friend too!
Have you encountered a situation similar to mine with good results? I’d love to hear about how it went for you!