As hard as it is to resist stepping in when your toddler has a conflict with a friend, it's important that you do.
A new study shows that children are "skilled negotiators" and that letting them practice these skills in play with their friends -- without adult interference -- is good for them.
The study out of Sweden looked at children ages 2 to 3 and found that while figuring out how to play together the children showed "invention, creativity, enthusiasm, industry, involvement, activity, and problem-solving strategies."
As parents, we need to let our children attempt to work things out themselves, even at an early age.
We all know a mother (or perhaps have been that mother at one time or another) who tries to manage every interaction her child has. "Honey, share that shovel with Mary, that's nice, now ask her please if you can have the bucket, now say thank you, oh wait, she doesn't look happy that you took it, why don't you give it back and go get the ball, that's good, now toss the ball to Mary ..."
Stop, say researchers.
"A pedagogical consequence of the results is that adults shouldn't intervene too early in children's negotiations," said researcher Torgeir Alvestad. "Just give the children time! The fact that children work towards the best solution also ties in well with the idea of democracy in preschool."
"What's more, adults shouldn't intervene thinking that there's a conflict between the children, as it is frequently a negotiation that's happening," he continued.
Easier said than done, I know.
Do you find it difficult not to intervene when your child plays with friends?
Image via kassifur22