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Article: Conflict Resolution: Maybe Monkey Bars Will Bring Us Together, Or Maybe Not

andrea richards

Conflict Resolution: Maybe Monkey Bars Will Bring Us Together, Or Maybe Not

It's true that you can see most of the good and the bad of human dynamics in miniature on the playground: kids being kind, kids being bullies, kids being excluded, and kids being inclusive.

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There are days when managing all the ups and downs makes me feel so exhausted, I want to move my kids to an iceberg where they can have more gentle interactions with polar bears. Or France, where instead of monitoring the minutia of my kids' interactions, I might sit on a nearby bench and read a magazine in blissful ignorance of whatever situation is going down by the swings. (Because, yes, they can figure it out on their own sometimes!) Social interaction, unless you're on that iceberg, is a must, and teaching my two kiddos to be responsible, kind and empathetic people will, I'm promised by the experts, pay off in the end. (If it doesn't, I want a full refund on all the time I've spent cajoling my toddlers to "think about how that makes so-and-so feel.") And for all the tears shed from sand thrown in the eyes, there are some beautiful moments on the playground, unexpected happenings that renew your faith in our usually selfish, backstabbing human race. Take, for example, my three-year-old daughter saying goodbye to one of her pals yesterday: After a two-hour roller coaster ride of back-and-forth disagreement over toys, what games to play and what outfits to wear, they had one final blowup that left both shouting, "Don't yell at me, I don't like it when you yell at me," at each other. If it weren't so loud, it would be funny. No sooner were we trying to deal with (and quiet) their "big feelings" than they both turned the corner again, suddenly hugging each other. It was time to go and they each acted kindly, hugging yet again. It seemed amazing - like all of our patience with the schizophrenia of their feelings was finally paying off: Here they were, loving and caring for each other. My mama heart melted and I felt so proud. Then, as we watched our friends depart, a little voice from the stroller screaked, "Don't look at me." To which my daughter replied: "Don't YOU look at me." Here's to big feelings that knock you off of your feet, baby. Celebrate "The Way You Make Me Feel," with Rockabye Baby's Lullaby Renditions of Michael Jackson.


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