It is common for children to have disagreements and fall out while playing.
Turn taking and sharing is a skill they need to develop. Problems arise when children do not learn how to problem solve and that can lead to aggressive behaviour frequently occurring whilst playing.
We’ve come up with some simple steps to help.
Explain the rules
Decide on two or three simple rules for playing with others and remind your child before playing – keep hands and feet to yourself or share and take turns.
Rules should act as a reminder for the behaviour you want to encourage, not what you want to avoid.
Encourage positive behaviour
Offer lots of praise when your child is playing well with others. If playing with others is particularly difficult for your child, you may want to reinforce positive play with a reward at the end.
Choose activities to encourage positive play
Some activities promote sharing and turn taking, such as board games and ball games, which can be a great start.
More structured play will help your child to remember the rules as free play can be chaotic, particularly if your child struggles with sharing/playing nicely.
Step in before it escalates
Often aggressive behaviour is triggered by children becoming frustrated over not getting their own way.
Children can struggle to articulate what they want and the idea is to help them problem solve before the behaviour escalates.
For example, give them some words to use: “Tom – say ‘Isaac you’ve had your turn, it’s now my turn’.”
What to do if it escalates
Tell your child what you want them to stop doing and what behaviour you want to see instead.
Act as soon as you see it happening. If they do not do as you have asked, give a logical consequence such as removing the item they are fighting over for a set time or take your child for a time out to calm down.
Praise your child as soon as you see them playing nicely again and this will encourage that to continue.