Kids and Friend Drama: When to Step In

by on February 14th, 2011
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Many parents are surprised at just how early friend drama starts in kids. Now some kids will fight over toys in preschool or randomly mention, “Well, I’m not your friend anymore,” quickly followed by a tongue sticking out. Yet it’s odd and sad at just how quickly these little preschool-style dramas unfold into far more serious dramatic episodes and arguments between friends. While girls may be known for such drama, the fact is that it happens with boys, too.

As a parent, it’s not out of line at all to want to step in and help your child out. You may want to pick up the phone and call the other kids’ parents to let them know what’s going on. You may want to invite the child or children in question over so you can explain to them what appropriate behavior with friends really is. Yet the bottom line is that in many cases you do actually need to step back and let your child work through this dramatic episode on his or her own. Yes, this includes even with kids in their young elementary age years, too. It can be painful for you to watch your child hurt from the drama of it all, but this is a learning episode if nothing else.

However, while in most cases you do want to let your child learn how to deal with these situations on his or her own, you also want to be vigilant to the situation, too. There are times when parents do need to step in and address the situation if it becomes too much for a child to handle. Here are some key times when you will want to step in:

Bullying. Bullying is a bad word in schools today, and whether the events are taking place at school or out of school, there really should be zero tolerance for any time of bullying behavior. Keep in mind that bullying doesn’t just involve calling names and stealing someone’s lunch money. It involves using strength, power or intimidation over another person to create a certain effect, and it comes in many different forms.

Crossing the Line. When it comes to friends fighting, there is a line that just should not be crossed. This includes the use of bad language, hurtful words, and more. Arguing with a friend hurts, but when your child’s friend has crossed the line and that argument turns really nasty, it’s time to pour some cold water on the situation.

Ganging Up. You may think that ganging up sounds like bullying, but when a group of friends bands together and excludes someone who used to be in that same group of friends without any bullying involved, your child can really feel alone in the world.

Now, when it’s time to step in and do something, how you act should depend on the situation. Sometimes, the school, organization, or so forth where the main bulk of arguments are taking place need to become aware of the situation. Often an email to a teacher or administrator to make them aware of the situation will be enough. You may consider talking to a parent, but keep in mind that most parents will rush to defend their child and will not be open or receptive to your comments.

When there really are no other authority figures you can turn to for help, you may want to consider helping your child to develop some new friendships. The bottom line is that some friendships may just be going through a rough patch, but sometimes these arguments are a time when a friend shows his or her true colors and reveals that he or she isn’t a good friend at all. It may be best in the long run for your child to develop some new friendships.

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