Fighting Is Good for Kids After All!

If you are like me, the sound of your kids bickering is the major soundtrack of your day. Now, it turns out, that sound that makes you crazy may actually be the key to happy children. Go figure.

A study by the University of Cambridge's Centre for Family Research has found that children aged 2 to 6 who fight and compete are growing the kinds of social skills and "dispute-resolving techniques" that will later help them tremendously in work and in life.

It may sound far-fetched to those of us with bossy older children who treat their younger siblings like dirt or those of us who can't take a simple five-minute drive without wishing we had a car wall to put between our screaming kids. But the good news is, it's all good news!


According to Dr. Claire Hughes, the author of a new book, Social Understanding and Social Lives, which is based on the research:

The more combative siblings are, and the more they argue and the older child puts the younger one down, the more they are learning complex lessons about communication and the subtleties of language. The more the children upset each other, the more they learn about regulating their emotions and how they can affect the emotions of others.

And while I know how awful it is to hear the squabbles and the bickering over the most inane things (last week my children almost came to blows over who had a pencil eraser first when there were TWO pencil erasers anyway), it does make it all a little easier to take to imagine they are just practicing for their future.

Kids who argue and fight learn early on about fairness, sharing, dispute resolution, and social skills. These things matter. So, while hearing them argue is maddening, their social skills grow every time they insist on squabbling over who climbs in the car first or who gets to sit in the shopping cart.

Do you mind when your kids fight?


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