It is a bright and sunny Saturday morning. My 5-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son are hanging out at home and I decided to put up a new swing I have been planning to install in my house since past many days. Our kitchen opens into a large dining area, which I left as open as possible without furniture for the kids to play. I put up the new swing in this dining area, which is not easily visible from the kitchen area.
Within minutes of stepping into the kitchen to whip up some quick lunch, I hear loud noises, yelling and screaming. I knew what it was. The beautiful sounds of my children fighting. I breathe a sigh of relief, put on some music and go back to my cooking. After two minutes, there is silence. I peek to see what is happening, and I see that my daughter is pushing my son on the swing and is telling him that after a few pushes he will have to push her and he says okay.
I know this story seems unrealistic, but this has become a reality in my house after I met Poovazhagan. I know you all will feel terribly confused when I say that we should allow our kids to fight. I have to admit I felt the same when I first was presented with this concept. Fights are an absolutely natural part of growing up; they are what keeps our instincts alive.
Fights help kids learn to defend themselves and help them resolve conflicts. The small conflicts they will resolve now will help them handle big conflicts when they are adults. They learn to understand others feelings and respond accordingly. They learn how their actions and words can positively or negatively impact others. They learn to that sometimes losing is actually winning. They learn to compromise. They learn to stand up for themselves.
Our response when we see kids fighting is to immediately tell them not to fight, remove them from the situation, distract them, give them reasons why they shouldn’t fight. Yes, it is easy to do this and it gives immediate results, the kids stop fighting. Is that what we really want? Yes, we have to be mindful when a very weak and a very strong kid (weak/strong need not be physically, but mentally too) are fighting and react accordingly but in general, there is absolutely no need to intervene. By doing so, we are removing all opportunities for them to be emotionally independent to handle situations. We are removing all opportunities for them to feel a wide variety of emotions. The feelings that start with hatred, anger, anxiety, fear and then turn into love, happiness, calmness.
So let us make a choice. Do we want our children to grow up to be responsible adults who can successfully handle and resolve conflicts and build strong human relationships, or do we want our children to be disconnected adults who cannot resolve conflicts and hold on to relationships?