Are you married to your childhood friend?
"You are not my girlfriend anymore!"
Suddenly it gets loud in the daycare's sandpit. Dispute over the sieve for making powder sand. "If you don't give me the sieve, you're no longer my friend!", Lou-Helene yells at her best friend Marla. At first it remains unimpressed and clings to the sieve. But when Lou-Helene goes one better: "And I'm not going to invite you for my birthday either!", She starts to cry. Lots of drama and it's all about a sieve. But for the two girls this sieve is the world at this moment.
Such arguments are completely normal and even important in friendships. Because when they first quarrel, children do not have any conflict resolution strategies at hand. As a result, they push, tear away toys, start screaming, or be mean. Or try blackmail. You only gradually learn to understand the needs of your friend and to understand and then to name your own wishes and feelings. Only when they are ready can compromises be found.
Don't get involved
That's why it's not at all good when adults interfere in quarrels and try to settle them. Unless it gets tangible, of course. It is best to remain neutral and show interest and understanding for both sides without taking sides. It also helps to identify the feelings that are involved in the argument. If the child understands what he is feeling and can express it, it will help him to get out of the situation. Then you can sometimes pretend to be helpless and claim that you don't have a good solution at the moment, whether the two fighters might have an idea. A little push in the right direction is sometimes enough.
Typical topics for kindergarten children up to elementary school age are competition when the children compare and measure their toys or their skills with one another. Or the topic of being a determiner. "Hugo always wants to determine what is done." That's silly. And then all of Hugo is stupid. Most of the time it works by itself, which of course can take time. At some point, however, the other children may no longer feel like dancing to Hugo's tune and suddenly Hugo is standing there alone. And in order to play along, he suddenly follows what another child suggests. Hugo got to know his limits. And the other children understood and lived out their needs. And all of them have gained valuable first experiences for a socially acceptable life.
But what if your best friend suddenly wants to play with someone else and the old friend is not allowed to play? Then it is very easy to say: "If you play with that one, you are no longer my girlfriend!" Children are often very possessive, even when it comes to their best friend. Of course, jealousy and fear of loss play a major role. But a child shouldn't be put under pressure by the sentence "Then you are no longer my girlfriend". It is quite natural that children want to play with others from time to time. That's why the old friend can still be a friend. Or your best friend. The child must learn to be very clear about this to the friend. These are his needs and wants. Either the friend accepts that or the friendship will have difficulties to survive in the long run.
But sometimes it's just so that the children develop apart and suddenly someone else fits better as a friend. It's sad for the child who suddenly finds himself without a best friend. But there is no point in clinging to your old friend. It is then better to encourage new contacts and friendships and to give the child comfort and support. Every crisis and every quarrel strengthens the child for later adversities in life. And from friendship to friendship, it understands better which child, with which characteristics, suits him well and, above all, should behave like a good friend. And the new friend is then perhaps the much better friend.
Sonja Baum is actually a molecular biologist. She then became a science journalist and initially wrote as a freelance writer for the "Financial Times Deutschland" and magazines such as "P.M.".
She has been writing down since she had three childrenLeben-und-erzüge.de about things that move your world. Her new book "Mama manages the corona crisis" * has just been published (as an e-book, 7.99 euros via Amazon).
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