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Peer Relationships

Fighting With Other Children

"My child jumps into anything new. He has to be the first to greet strangers, plunge into new situations, explore new equipment or toys. And he wants to keep on doing it.
But if anyone else wants to get involved, the interruption really makes him upset. He lashes out."

Why Does This Occur?

In the preschool period, fighting occurs primarily among energetic, intense children who have a large appetite for life. They love anything new. But if they are also moderate to low in frustration tolerance, they get intensely frustrated when anyone wants to join in. They want to monopolize the situation, be the only one involved. As their intensity rises, fights break out.

What Works:

Keep in mind: this is the small, negative downside of a positive trait, your child's large appetite for life.
Keeping this perspective is important because, as they grow older, energetic children who have difficulty tuning out frustration are more likely to persist in activities that interest them, like exploring something new. Later on, in school, this trait becomes important. It builds positive persistence.
For now, just keep in mind that your child can become intoxicated with novelty. With new people, new things or in new situations, keep an eye on his excitement level. Help him calm down before he gets so intense that he can't share.
Over the months that come, help your child learn to self-monitor. Before tackling something new, ask, "Do you think you can stay calm enough to share this with your friends? Or are you too tired?"
  Questions like those help set expectations that he will share. They also help build self-awareness, including awareness of the link between tiredness and frustration tolerance.
  And then, when he does succeed in sharing these experiences, be sure to praise. That builds a positive self-image.

Your Temperament:

Parents who are more sensitive to noise and disruption may try to avoid these situations, rather than allow their child to learn to manage the excitement of exploring their world.





[rev: 6/2014]

© 2013, The Preventive Ounce, a Non-profit organization