Helping Your Child Cope with Conflict

Help Children Act Calm

  • Let them know that it takes more courage to walk away from a fight than to stay and fight.
  • Teach them that fights don’t solve problems—they make new ones.
  • Remind them that when they get mad but don’t fight, they have really won.

Sometimes, getting along with other kids is hard. Some kids:

  • Get into fights when they are angry.
  • Get teased a lot.
  • Encourage others to fight.

This can make your child feel bad or get in trouble. Teach your child how to deal with anger and stay out of trouble.

Everyone Gets Mad

Anger doesn’t usually last a long time, but it is a very strong feeling when it happens. Children get mad when:

  • Their feelings are hurt or they can’t do what they want.
  • Others don’t understand them or lie about them.
  • They feel left out or others don’t act the way they want.

When children are mad, their bodies react:

  • Their hearts beat faster and their faces feel hot and sweaty.
  • It might be hard to breathe and they can’t think clearly.
  • They have a lot of energy and want action.

When children are angry, it is:

  • Good to put their feelings into words.
  • Not good to hit someone, break things, or say things that hurt.

Teach Your Child to ACT CALM

When children get mad, they can ACT:

Acknowledge – Acknowledge angry  feelings.Notice changes in their bodies.

Calm down – Breathe deeply, count t o 10, or walk away.Punch a pillow, run, or play music.

Think and talk – Think about the problem and ways to fix it. If someone doesn’t know what children are trying to say or do, they need to explain themselves.Talk with someone about being mad and ways to fix  the problem without fighting. If there is nobody to talk to right away, stop and think, “This is why I’m mad and what I need to do is …”

If someone tries to start a fight, your child can be the one to stay CALM:

Calm down – Keep a safe distance from the other person. Take slow, deep breaths. Stay alert and stand tall.

Avoid – Avoid name-calling or returning insults. It only makes things worse. Avoid other kids who may want to fight. Try to talk in private with the kid who wants to fight.

Listen – Calmly listen to what the other kid says. Ask, “What does this person really want?”

Move on – Find ways to solve the problem without fighting. Use humor. “I wouldn’t want you to catch my cold.”Give a reason.  “We’ll both get thrown off the team if we fight.” Walk away. If nothing else works, it’s best to walk away.

Children do what they see others do. You are your child’s most important role model.

If your child is still having trouble getting along with other kids, talk with your pediatrician.


Source: Connected Kids: Safe, Strong, Secure (Copyright © 2006 American Academy of Pediatrics) The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.


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Help Children Cope After Disasters

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After a disaster or crisis, children benefit from adults who can help them learn how to cope effectively. Although it is not useful for adults to appear overwhelmed by the event, it is helpful to share some of their feelings and what they are doing to deal with those feelings. Children can’t be expected to cope with troubling feelings if no one models effective coping. Allow children to “own” their feelings. Let your child know that it is all right to be upset about something bad that happened. Use the conversation to take the opportunity to talk about other troubling feelings your child may have. A child who feels afraid is afraid, even if adults think the reason for the fear is unnecessary. If you feel overwhelmed and/or hopeless, look for some support from other adults before reaching out to your child.

Don’t feel obligated to give a reason for what happened. Although adults often feel the need to provide a reason for why someone committed such a crime, many times they don’t know. It is okay to tell your child that you don’t know why at this time such a crime was committed.

Children are not only trying to deal with the disaster, but with everything else that follows. They may have to relocate, at least temporarily, and could be separated from friends or unable to attend the same school. Parents may have less income and the change in finances may impact their ability to participate in activities they enjoyed or travel to visit family out of town. Allow children to express their regrets over these “secondary losses” (without accusing them of being selfish) and help them figure out ways to minimize the impact or find alternatives.

Children, just like adults, often feel helpless after a disaster. Help them figure out what they can do—that is meaningful to them—to help others in their community impacted by the disaster.

Additional Resources:

Helping Your Child Cope

Helping Children Cope with Death

AAP Offers Resources to Help Parents, Children and Others Cope in the Aftermath of School Shootings

Getting Your Family Prepared for a DisasterHow to Prepare for Disasters

Last Updated 12/17/2012. Source American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2012)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

Talking to Children About Disasters

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Children can cope more effectively with a disaster when they feel they understand what is happening and what they can do to help protect themselves, family, and friends. Provide basic information to help them understand, without providing unnecessary details that may only alarm them.

For very young children, provide concrete explanations of what happened and how it will affect them (eg, a tree branch fell on electrical wires and that is why the lights don’t work). Let children know there are many people who are working to help them and their community to recover after a disaster (such as repair crews for the electric company, or firefighters, police, paramedics, or other emergency personnel). Share with them all of the steps that are being taken to keep them safe; children will often worry that a disaster will occur again.

Older children will likely want, and benefit from, additional information about the disaster and recovery efforts. No matter what age, start by asking children what they already know and what questions they have and use that as a guide for the conversation. Limit media coverage of the disaster—if children are going to watch media coverage, consider taping it (to allow adults to preview) and watch along with them to answer questions and help them process the information. While children may seek and benefit from basic information about what happened so that they can understand what is happening in their world, they (and adults) don’t benefit from graphic details or exposure to disturbing images or sounds. In the aftermath of a crisis is a good time to disconnect from all media and sit down together and talk as a family.

Be sure to ask children what questions or concerns they have. Often they have fears based on limited information or because they misunderstood what they were told. Reassure children when able to do so, but if their fears are realistic, don’t give false reassurance. Instead, help them learn how to cope with these feelings.

 

Last Updated 12/17/2012. Source American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2012)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.