It’s a conversation that no one wants to have, but one that is more common than you might expect. You go to pick up your kid after school, and their teacher asks if they can have a word. It turns out that your child has been making other children unhappy, either by teasing and calling them names, or by hitting, kicking, and punching. As a parent, your first response may be to defend your child, but the fact is that the teacher is only reporting what they have seen and heard. You now need to get to the bottom of why your child is behaving in this way and support them to have healthier interactions with their peers. Read on for three ways to do this.
Talk to Your Child
Wait until your child is calm, and feels safe and secure. Perhaps after supper, when the two of you are relaxing on the sofa. Rather than confronting them, begin by explaining that you want them to be happy at school. Tell them how sad it makes you when they seem unhappy, and ask them if anything is going on. Your child may open up about friendship troubles, a rivalry with another kid, or something at school that is making them anxious. If this is the case, reassure them and explain that you will talk to their teacher to resolve the issue. Do stress that hitting or teasing others isn’t okay and that you are upset to hear what their teacher has said. Tell them that you are going to help them make and keep friends so that they will feel happier and more confident.
Support Them With Socializing
If your child is expressing anxiety when it comes to interacting with other kids, you could try some role play to help them learn about kind words and actions. If you pretend to be a peer in their class, act out sharing a toy or activity and note how your child addresses you as their peer. Give them examples of kind words to use, and emphasize the importance of sharing and caring. If your child is getting angry and upset very quickly, you will need to get to the bottom of their emotional distress and this may involve professional support from your child’s physician.
Talk to Other Parents
It may help to have a quiet word with the parents of some of the kids that your child has been unkind to. Emphasize that you understand that they may be upset or angry, but that you are doing everything to address this issue. As your child develops their confidence, you may even want to invite one of these children over, with a parent present. This way, you can keep watch over the children and make sure that your child is being kind. At any sign of a disagreement, remove your child and remind them of your expectations over how they treat others. With time, their understanding of how to interact with other children will improve, and the parents of the other kids will trust your child again to come over for playdates.