No parent is perfect, and when your child is consistently showing an inability to share, aggression towards others or other forms of bad behaviour, it can be difficult not to blame yourself or know what to do. It’s important to note that all children go through phases of bad behaviour as they grow and develop, and these are perfect opportunities to work on teaching your child how to play nicely.
Create a Chill-Out Zone
Instead of punishing your child every time they act out, which could lead to further tantrums and bad behaviour, try instead creating a ‘chill-out zone’ where they can go to cool off and collect themselves. Encourage them to think about their behaviour and what they could have done instead to improve. This helps your child to learn self-calming skills, as well as giving them the opportunity to reflect upon their behaviour.
Set a Good Example
Children see and copy everything, so if you want your child to play nicely with other kids, you’ll need to start setting a good example yourself. This isn’t to say you have to be perfect all the time, but try to make a concerted effort to display to your child how you overcome disagreements with your partner for example, or how you can stay calm even when you’re arguing. If you do mess up and end up getting angry or aggressive, remember to talk to your child about it and point out where you went wrong.
Encourage Empathy and Conversation
One of the key steps to learning how to play nicely with others is learning how to effectively communicate and empathise with them. It’s important to encourage empathy with your child, even if they are young, by asking them to consider how their actions affected other people, and asking them why the behaved the way they did. Often young children struggle to understand ‘why’ questions, so instead try using ‘what’ questions such as ‘what made you hit your brother?’
Read Books That Encourage Good Behaviour
Try reading to your child from books that encourage good behaviour, sharing, kindness and empathy. There are plenty of kids’ books geared towards encouraging nice play, such as ‘Why Should I Listen’ and ‘How To Be a Friend’. Reading these books before bedtime is a great way to calm your child down, ready them for sleep and teach them some life skills. Studies have also shown that we are more likely to remember concepts we learn before going to sleep, so making it a bedtime routine can help good behaviour to stick.
Create Some Art That Demonstrates Friendly Playing
An easy and fun way to encourage friendly productive play in your children is to incorporate it into an art session. For younger kids this might mean bringing out the finger painting kits and making a picture of them playing nicely. For slightly older kids, try using an online comic creator such as Rage Maker, to make a fun and silly comic addressing how to resolve conflict effectively.
Parenting is never easy, and we all struggle sometimes. Searching online for a little help and guidance now and again can provide you with some tips and reassurance and will also make you realize that you are not alone.