It’s natural to want to come to Baby’s defense when you hear them arguing with another child, or for you to want to intervene when they start squabbling with their siblings. After all, you want them to get along with their peers, and to make friends, and arguments seem to go against that goal. However, before you jump in and start to play referee, it’s important to remember that arguments actually play an important part in their social development.
The pros of arguments
- Problem-solving: Arguments start with a disagreement, and there’s no avoiding the fact that at some point, Baby is going to have an issue with their playmates. Maybe they want a toy that another child won’t share, or another child tells them that they can’t join in a game at the park. While this is no fun to watch, watching from the sidelines for a bit to see how they respond gives them the chance to try to figure out a solution to the problem on their own. Where there is a problem, there is also a solution. Giving them time to work through a disagreement helps them learn that problems can be solved peacefully.
- Compromise: Life isn’t always going to go the way Baby wants, or the way they plans, and it’s a lesson they're going to learn over and over again in a hundred little ways as they grow up. When you step in during a conflict, siding either with Baby or the opposing party, you’re reaching the compromise for them. By letting them work on negotiating on their own, you’re helping them learn important skills like taking turns, waiting, the fact that compromising with others can mean they keep wanting to play with you, and other lessons that can help out down the road.
- Emotional intelligence: Working through tricky situations with peers helps Baby learn to express their feelings. As they get better at this, they will also grow more comfortable with expressing themself. Give them the chance to stand their ground, and soon enough, they won’t need you to rush to the rescue!
Working through problems with other children can teach Baby some great skills for the school years and beyond, if you resist the urge to come right to their defense when they disagree with their peers. If the argument is getting out of hand, grows physical, or seems like a case of bullying, it’s still your role to step in to break up the situation, but the rest of the time, it can be helpful to give them some time to work things out on their own – and you may be surprised as how well they handle these early confrontations.