Parenting in the Playground

Feb 10 , 2024
By Kidist Yidnekachew

There are occasions when I find myself yearning to escape from children's quarrels, particularly when I am engrossed in a task that demands my undivided attention. When it involves children who are not of my kin, my tolerance level plummets to an absolute zero.

I recall two young boys engaged in a heated altercation, seemingly triggered by a trivial matter involving a ball. The intensity of their disagreement escalated to the point where one of them resorted to striking the other. The victim's father, who had been observing the spectacle from a distance, abruptly descended the staircase in a flurry of urgency and delivered a resounding strike upon the other boy. As his parents were not close by, there was no guardian figure to come to his defence.

It was regrettable. But a unanimous consensus emerged among the witnesses, asserting that the father's actions were undeniably inappropriate. Instead of resorting to physical violence, he ought to have sought reconciliation. Among the discussions post-conflict, these words resonated deeply within me; "Children quarrel; children reconcile. Parents should refrain from interfering."

It held profound truth, for within a mere 10 minutes, the children resumed their playful activities as if the altercation had never happened. The father felt a deep sense of disappointment and regret as he watched the young ones quickly make amends, rendering his intervention futile. I can sympathise with his point of view to a certain extent, as it is only natural for a parent to want to shield their child from harm.

The instinctual desire for justice may arise in such intense moments. But, parents must maintain composure and avoid taking things personally. We must constantly remind ourselves that these individuals are children, and therefore, our anger should be tempered and kept under control.

Parents should recognise that not all conflicts should be treated the same. While adults must step in when there is physical harm or serious aggression involved, it can be more beneficial for children's development to let them handle minor disputes on their own. By refraining from immediate intervention, parents allow their children to develop important social and emotional skills. When parents observe and support their children in finding their solutions, they empower them to become better at resolving conflicts. This approach helps children build their conflict resolution and emotional intelligence. It also sends the message that children are capable of solving their problems.

The line is clear. Parents should be present but not intrusive, ready to step in if the situation escalates into aggression. Encouraging children to express themselves verbally is another approach. By asking open-ended questions such as "What happened?" or "How are you feeling?" parents can help children articulate their needs and perspectives, which is the first step towards resolving conflicts.

It is also important to demonstrate respectful communication by actively listening, using "I" statements, and validating emotions. In cases where children seem stuck, offering guidance in the form of options or prompts can be helpful. But it is crucial to avoid dictating solutions. This approach encourages children to think critically and find their solutions to conflicts.

When children constructively resolve their conflicts, parents should acknowledge and praise their efforts. Positive reinforcement encourages good behaviour and motivates children to use similar strategies going forward.

Allowing children to develop important skills such as negotiation, compromise, and effective communication will promote healthier interactions with their peers and help them understand and manage their emotions.

PUBLISHED ON Feb 10,2024 [ VOL 24 , NO 1241]

Kidist Yidnekachew is interested in art, human nature and behaviour. She has studied psychology, journalism and communications and can be reached at (

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

Put your comments here

N.B: A submit button will appear once you fill out all the required fields.

Editors' Pick


Fortune news