As a dad, it can be difficult to think of your children as anything more than good-natured little troublemakers. Sure, they get out of hand sometimes, but bending the rules in pursuit of fun is part of what being a kid is all about. Because of this fatherly perception you have of your little ones, it can be a shock to discover that your son got into his first playground fight. Before you blow your top, here are some tips to help you with playground bullies and your son.

While schools often implement a no-tolerance policy on fighting to avoid taking sides, it’s to your advantage to hear your son’s side of the story. Sit him down and have him go over the events that led up to the conflict. Many playground scuffles are the result of a taunt or shove that gets blown out of proportion, so making time to listen will help you understand who instigated the fight and determine your next course of action.

As a father, it’s easy to lose perspective and see your kids’ actions as those of adorable little troublemakers simply engaging in high-spirited shenanigans…but what happens when things get out of hand and it’s not just fun and games anymore? That’s why it’s such a shock when one of your boys (or girls) gets into their first playground fight. Before you lose your cool and make unwise decisions, here are a few tips to helop you deal with playground bullies and your son.

Many schools enforce a zero-tolerance policy, and it often catches the innocent (or more innocent) party in the same net as the original offender or bully. Before rushing into judgment, sit your kid down and find out some things:

  • Hear his side of the story without judgment or recrimination. You’re likely to get better results this way, when they’re not afraid of your reaction and know they can be safe.
  • Go over the events in sequence, to establish a timeline
  • Try to suss out things that got blown out of proportion, and distinguish fact from fiction
  • Figure out what contributed to the conflagration, such as, do the kis have a history of disagreements and antagonism?
  • Was your kid acting aggressively or simply defending himself?

Regardless, you have to emphasize how important fighting is, that it isn’t cool. Also, consider encouraging your child to try to solve conflicts with talking and dip0lomacy, or to learn to just walk away from the situation, since school authorities are rarely tolerant or lenient about fighting of any kind. While it’s up to you to determine any possible punishment, it is probably necessary to speak with the school principal, and when possible to the parents of the other child about the boys apologizing to each other and working things out.