As kids, we all remember being told to "play nicely" with the other children. It's an age-old phrase commonly used by parents and caregivers who hope their children will refrain from the biting, name-calling and hitting that most kids are prone to. It's important to remember that a child's age will not only affect his level of development, it also determines how well he can learn to get along with his peers. Although a two-year-old hasn't learned to "share" in the same way that is expected of an eight-year-old, it's never too early to begin teaching your child how to be a pleasant playmate.
- Make sure the child has enough room to play. Several children crowded into a small area can lead to cranky squabbles. When at all possible, provide duplicate toys so that one child has the same thing as another.
- How do you handle a tense situation? Biting a child to teach them "biting is bad" is a contradictory message. Since children mimic what adults do, try to handle fights with calm, patience, and numerous "time outs."
- Encourage your child to share with others, or practice "taking turns."
- Diffuse the crankiness and stubbornness that go hand-in-hand with the answer "no"; rephrase the question, or present the reasons why a child cannot have his or her way (example: "You want a popsicle? We're going to have a big dinner in fifteen minutes.") This avoids reaction to a negative response.
- Remain firm on family rules for playtime. Have a misbehaving child removed from the offending situation and let him know why he is being punished.