How many times have you had to break up a fight between your children? If you’ve got more than one kid, it’s almost guaranteed that at some point there will be squabbling and disagreements. But, it doesn’t have to be this way.
It’s possible for children to learn how to control their emotions and get along with each other without resorting to physical violence. In this article, we’ll cover the strategies parents can use to help their children learn how to express themselves and manage their emotions in a healthy way; strategies that will not only help them now, but will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
From understanding the triggers of outbursts and emphasizing empathy over dominance, to teaching self-regulation skills and valuing friendships, we’ll discuss ways for parents to create an emotionally safe space for their kids. Let’s dive in!
Analyzing the Behavior of Fighting in Children
Understanding why children fight is an important step to helping them overcome the behavior. Often, physical fighting is a child's way of expressing frustration, anger or excitement. While it can be confusing because they don't necessarily understand their behavior themselves, they are attempting to communicate in the only way they know how.
Children also learn negative behavior by observing and mimicking those around them. If they see adults or siblings engaging in physical fights, then this becomes normalized for them. By recognizing this need for communication, parents can start taking steps to channel these emotions into something more constructive.
Therefore, the first step for parents is to acknowledge that their children are trying to communicate and express emotions in the only way that makes sense to them. Parents should be patient and try to help their children learn how to express their emotions better, rather than punishing or scolding them for it. Instead of punishing fighting, parents should use this as an opportunity for teaching empathy, setting boundaries and showing forgiveness.
Assisting Children With Understanding Their Emotions
Helping children manage their emotions can seem daunting, but you’ll be glad to know that there are simple strategies you can implement that have been proven successful. A great first step is to sit down and listen to your children. This can help them understand why they might be feeling angry, frustrated or sad. Make sure that your actions match the message you’re trying to send—stay calm, talk calmly, and don’t raise your voice or resort to physical punishment.
Parents should also encourage children to talk openly and express their feelings in a constructive manner. The more they practice this in a safe environment, the better they will get at it. Teaching children how to identify their emotions and how to handle them accordingly can be incredibly helpful in learning how to better control them. You could start with creating a list of alternative activities that can help prevent fighting, such as going outside for some fresh air or playing an indoor game together.
It's important for parents to model positive behavior as well – act with kindness and compassion toward each other and others, even if things don't always go our way. Through your own example, you can demonstrate the values of respect, patience and empathy, helping your child learn the importance of those skills from an early age.
Establishing Boundaries and Setting Expectations
As a parent, you know that it's important to set rules and expectations for your kids, but it's also important to remember that, just as with adults, children need boundaries too. Establishing clear boundaries can help your children understand what is and isn't acceptable behavior when they're dealing with their emotions—and when they're interacting with other children.
Here are some tips to establish and enforce boundaries:
Make sure your expectations are realistic, age-appropriate, and well-defined.
Have a plan in place for how to handle transgressions of those boundaries and expectations.
Remind your kids of established family rules in a calm and non-judgmental way.
Clearly explain why certain behavior is not acceptable.
Give positive reinforcement when appropriate—this will encourage good behavior in the future.
When kids know what the expectations are from their parents, it's more likely that they'll be better able to control their emotions and avoid fighting with others. With clear rules in place, you can help create an environment of love and understanding between siblings, instead of violence or aggression.
Encouraging Positive Behavior in Children
It is important to remember that parent’s reaction also plays a huge role in how children learn to control their emotions and stop fighting. Parents can use positive reinforcement and rewards to recognize and encourage their child's good behavior.
Rewards can be used when children show compassion towards others, demonstrate patience or take responsibility for their actions. This will help them understand that using self-control is more beneficial than behaving aggressively. The rewards do not need to be tangible; they can be verbal praise, hugs or even some extra time with the parent.
It is also important to set expectations from the start and make sure that your children understand what behaviors are acceptable or unacceptable. Without clear expectations, it will be difficult for your child to know what is expected of them.
Lastly, parents should also model the behavior they want to see in their child. When you show affection, compassion and patience, you are demonstrating the kind of behavior you want your child to exhibit as well.
In the end, it's clear that when it comes to helping children become better at controlling their emotions and not fighting each other, parents play an important role. It doesn't have to be difficult or time-consuming—a few simple strategies, such as creating a calming environment and taking time for physical activities, can go a long way in creating a nurturing environment for your children and helping them to better manage their emotions and stay away from arguments and fights.
At Morphoo School, we understand that helping children learn to temper their emotions and foster positive behavioral changes is a shared responsibility between parents, guardians, and educators. Together, we can create stronger and more resilient young people who can positively contribute to their communities and the world.