Anytime kids play together, there are going to be skirmishes. There is also going to be tattling and times when the grown-ups didn’t see what happened.
A strategy for these moments with kids is to ask if they think what happened was an argument, or, an accident. This is a great way to get kids to practice perspective-taking. Here’s an example that happened just the other day in my 5 to the 7-year-old social group:
Finlay: “Miss Donna, that kid scratched me!”
Me: “That kid’s name is Lucas. Where are you scratched?”
Finlay: “On my lip. He grabbed a train and scratched my lip.”
(Lucas is just looking at both of us and saying nothing.)
Me: Oh, I see. First, do you need some ice?”
Finlay: “No, I’m okay.”
Me: “Okay, good. Lucas, do you want to tell me your side of what happened?”
Finlay: “I was just reaching for a train.”
Me: “Were you guys fighting over the trains?”
Me: “So do you both think this was an argument and Lucas wanted to hurt you on purpose, or just an accident?”
Both: “It was just an accident.”
(And, they continued to play trains together.”
So many times, this is the case behind a tattle. It can be very easy to turn an accident into an argument. This one small question can help kids think things through, hear the other person’s side, and realize that much of the time, it’s accidents that happen.