As a homeschool mom, I have a front row seat to a lot of interactions between kids. From preschoolers to high school kids, homeschool groups often have them all. With any large group of kids, there will be some who just don’t get along. Even among homeschoolers, who all have a lot in common in that they are being educated at home, we often see personalities that just don’t mesh. Here are some things I have learned that help kids get along, even when they really just don’t like each other very much.
Use good manners
Even if you don’t like someone, that’s no excuse for being mean and nasty to them. Teach your kids to be polite and courteous, to listen to others when they are talking and to treat people with the respect they would like to receive in return.
Often, the kids that your child doesn’t like are the same ones that many other people don’t care for, either. Maybe because they are awkward or lack social graces. Maybe because they smell funny or dress in a different way. Teach your kids to be patient with other kids and show compassion, especially to those who are different, because they might not be able to help the way they are.
Utilize your space
One thing we try to do in our homeschool group is give the kids plenty of space to spread out. We schedule play days in a large park, and we try to let folks roam freely when we go on field trips. That way, if a pair of kids doesn’t get along, they don’t have to be stuck hanging around each other the whole time our group meets.
Encourage time apart
There are times kids should all engage together in group activities, and there are times kids should be able to form smaller groups or pairs and have fun on their own. Help your child understand that they might not always be included in the small group that they want to be a part of, but they can find other kids to hang out with instead. If they are cool about it, and back off, they stand a better chance of getting along than if they force themselves on others.
Look to the future
One thing is for sure when it comes to life as an adult. You will find yourself in situations where you have to deal with people you don’t like. Help your children see that learning how to interact with kids they don’t care much for is good practice for all the times they’ll have to do the same thing when they grow up.
Let kids work out their own differences
If you can, let kids settle things among themselves. They are usually pretty good at deciding who they want to play with, and will often include even the kids they don’t like in their games if you have taught them that it is important not to make people feel left out. Step in if needed, to resolve a serious conflict, to put an end to bullying or to make sure a child is not left completely on the sidelines, but otherwise let the kids handle things in their own ways. They’ll all get along better in the long run.
More by Tavia:
Help Your Child Make Friends at School
10 things homeschool moms don’t want you to know
Why Support is so Important to Homeschoolers