When Friends Fall Out

PIP When Friends Fall Out

While children will squabble from time to time, they are usually practising negotiating techniques. The skill for adults is to know when to step in or step back and let them get on with it, explains Anne O’Connor…

Fran and Lauren are happily playing together. They are chatting away and appear to be enjoying each other’s company. That is, until they both reach for the same toy and an argument ensues.

Fran reacts and hits Lauren. She instantly realises that Lauren is hurt and offended, so tries to make friends. Fran then apologises and gives Lauren a cuddle. But Lauren is still upset and shows Fran that she is not yet ready to make up by turning away from her.

Fran is disgruntled at first that her apology didn’t work, but doesn’t give up and tries a different approach. She suggests a new game to which Lauren responds, and they are soon happily playing together again.

Although it was Fran’s initial aggressive reaction that had caused the situation, she showed considerable social intelligence in recognising the need to negotiate a way through the problem in order to make amends with Lauren and so restore the relationship.

Neither Lauren nor Fran called on an adult to take over and solve the problem for them. They were both learning about the value of negotiation and the need to move to a resolution rather than blame.


1 Anyone spending time with children knows that arguments over the possession of toys are very common. Understanding the neuroscience and brain chemistry behind it all can make a big difference to the interventions and strategies we use to solve these kinds of conflicts.

  • When there is an emotional attachment to a toy, it releases chemicals called opiods in the brain, which means that the child has a sense of well-being when they are playing with the toy. Take it away and the brain is likely to experience ‘opiod withdrawal’ and this causes emotional pain, which is often expressed through crying…

Download full article below When friends fall out

Article written by Anne O’Connor and published in Nursery World © www.nurseryworld.co.uk

Example fallback content: This browser does not support PDFs. Please download the PDF to view it: Download PDF.

Download PDF