It’s been said that play is the work of children. This is particularly true when young children play together. They have to work hard to get along and figure out how to resolve conflict and form bonds.
Your child’s expanding social interactions offer an opportunity to teach them what God has to say about how we treat others. When asked how we best follow God, Jesus said we do that by loving God and by loving our neighbors as ourselves. When conflicts with peers inevitably arise, validate your child’s feelings, but ask them to consider the feelings of others.
Jesus also taught that we should treat others as we’d want to be treated. Children sometimes turn this around and think it means to treat others as they treated us—an invitation for revenge when someone wrongs us. But help them to understand that this teaching (from Matthew 7:12) means we need to be kind to others, because we’d want them to be kind to us. We should forgive others when they are mean or make a mistake, because we’d want the same thing.
Playtime for your child is a chance to build social skills, learn to navigate conflict, and practice loving their neighbor. Be watchful for teachable moments: not to lecture, but to ask questions that will get them thinking about how to be empathetic, and to love others as Jesus loves us.
In Hal and the New Kid, a new friend means new anxiety in the existing friendship between Hal the hedgehog and Ava the lamb. A prayer about friendship helps Hal extend his invitation to the new kid. To learn more about this delightful picture book, click here.