At age five, kids develop more stable friendships and social conflict among friends becomes inevitable. Kids are more likely to have conflict with close friends than with acquaintances because they spend more time with friends and have to negotiate different opinions, temperaments and styles of play. The good news is kids this age are highly motivated to solve these social problems because they care about the relationships. As parents, we can help children learn how to collaborate, cooperate, communicate, negotiate, self-advocate and respect others.
Social Skills How to Help Your Five-Year-Old Build Social Problem-Solving Skills
Help your five-year-old respectfully disagree with others and solve conflicts:
Promote Problem Solving
When children have a conflict, sometimes they need adults to step in and help them find healthy solutions ― especially if they are using harmful language or physical behavior. But when possible, encourage problem-solving behavior without solving the problem for them. This might sound like, "It sounds like you are upset because you both want to be the pirate king. How could we solve this?" Use the Daniel Tiger strategy song "Find a Way to Play Together" to talk to your child about navigating disagreements during playtime. And remember, sometimes conflicts are the result of kids feeling tired or hungry or overstimulated, and they just need a break! Two children who leave a playdate angry may very well be "best friends" the next day.
Talk About Examples
According to research, children learn more from media when their parents talk with them about what they are watching or creating. Many PBS Kids programs feature characters who are learning how to share, take turns, forgive and work through conflicts with peers. Watch one of these episodes together and talk about the choices the characters are making, how they feel and how they resolve social problems.
Help Them Make Amends
As the Daniel Tiger song reminds us, "Saying I'm sorry is the first step, then 'How can I help?'" If your child has made a choice that has hurt someone else, help them think about how they can make the situation better ― from helping clean up a mess to writing/drawing an apology note.
Talk About How to Disagree Respectfully
When your child doesn't see eye-to-eye with a peer, you can remind your child that sometimes friends don't agree on certain things — and that's okay. Even people who like each other a lot can have different opinions, likes or interests. But even when we disagree, we should always treat other people with respect and dignity. That means we DON'T call people names, ignore them, yell at them or hit them. That means we DO look for solutions that respect both parties, we do apologize when our actions hurt someone else and we do treat people with kindness.
Play Pretend: How to Include Others
Brainstorming and role-playing how to cope with being left out can help prepare children for a time when they might be excluded from play.Do This Activity
Help Your Child Manage Emotions with Arthur
Whether facing down a bully, worrying about a new teacher or being the very last person on earth to lose his baby teeth, Arthur and his friends manage to solve their crises with imagination, kindness and a lot of humor.Find Activities
Activity Finder: Learn With Your Five-Year-Old
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Lend a Hand
Remembering examples of when people were kind can help your child recognize how people care about and comfort one another.
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PBS Parents Play & Learn
Designed specifically with parents in mind, this app provides more than a dozen math and literacy games that parents can play with their kids. Each game builds on the natural curiosity of children and is themed around a familiar location like the garden or grocery store.
Wild Kratts Baby Buddies
Baby animals need a lot of attention and care. With this app, kids are in charge of feeding, washing, protecting, and playing with each one. The Wild Kratts team will be there with facts and tips to help children learn about the baby animals amazing creature powers along the way.
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Oscar's Bumper Cars
Oscar is in charge of the bumper car rides. In order to earn a ticket for the ride, your child will need to choose objects that start with the requested letter of the alphabet.