It’s great when kids play nicely together, but even the closest of friends and siblings will fight over a toy they both want. If it’s a constant battle, the bickering will soon wear you down – as Sonia, a mum-of-two from Edinburgh, has found.
She asks: “What’s the best way to encourage kids to share? My older child always wants what his younger sister is playing with and often just takes it from her – which means tears. But then she thinks she can just take his stuff too. I’m sick of the squabbling!”
Familia de Iturmendi – Parenthood4Ever
Familia de Iturmendi is an expat family constantly moving around the world while raising a child. Since becoming parents, they realized the truth of the phrase ‘Parenthood4Ever’, so they decided to motivate and support other young families and travellers with kids by sharing their experience and crazy stories. Moving around so much leaves little time to build long-lasting relationships so the family loves social media – you can find them at Parenthood4Ever, on Instagram as @parenthood4ever_ or on Facebook.
After realising that teaching her son to share wouldn’t be as easy as she thought, Ana says she learned a useful way of encouraging good habits.
“A few months ago I saw kids that didn’t want to share, and I thought my son wouldn’t be like that – I’d teach him. But guess what? In just two months, he stopped sharing.
“I learned from a child psychologist that, at 18 months old, a child develops attachment. He knows something belongs to him. It turns out this is an important stage of development – it sets up rules about treating and communicating with people in later life. Here’s the trick I learned.
“Explain to your child that this is their toy and they have the right to play with it when they want. When they want something from you, explain it is yours and you decide how much to play with it. Then share your toy, saying they can now play with it, but should return it as soon as you ask.
“By explaining who the toy belongs to and leaving the choice of sharing to your kids, in time they will become more willing to share because they will want other toys to be shared with them.”
Kimberly Stanfel – Behind the Mom Jeans
Kimberly is a seasoned marketing professional who turned a few of her ‘curve balls’ in life into something positive by creating her platform, Behind the Mom Jeans. A blog that speaks to the everyday truths of being a new mom, wife and human being. You can read more at Behind the mom jeans or find her on Instagram as @behindmomjeans.
Making sure your child spends a lot of time around other kids is a good way to demonstrate how sharing works, says Kim.
“Even though my daughter is still an only child, having her interact with kids of all ages has been tremendously helpful with the whole idea of sharing. Look in your local area for a kids’ gym or community centre that offers classes and free playtime for children in their age range. Surround them with kids who are slightly older than they are so they can watch and learn from those who might already be sharing among themselves.”
Jessica Baxter – Real Home Truths
Jessica is an experienced writer and editor living in Cape Town, South Africa, where her two toddlers provide all the inspiration she needs for her blog. She enjoys sharing her no-filter views and experiences of motherhood – both the mess and the magic. You can read more at Real Home Truths or find her on Instagram as @realhometruths.
Even though Jessica’s children have been pretty good about sharing, she has noticed some changes. Bringing a favourite television character into things helps!
“I have noticed as my daughter gets older that she’s started to become more protective of her toys. When her brother wants to play with something she holds her ground, which results in tears from him.
“How I handle it is by explaining we need to take turns playing with the different toys, so once she has had a turn her brother gets to have some time playing with that particular thing. It doesn’t always work, but it’s a good conversation to have.
“If things escalate, I take a ‘tough love’ approach and say nobody gets to play with the toy unless we can learn to share. And, of course, I always quote Barney – ‘Sharing is caring’!”
Danielle – My Life with Littles
A wife and mother to two children, Isabella and Henley, Danielle is chronicling her journey on Instagram. She’s passionate about raising awareness of mental health as well as covering all things mum and baby related. You can find her at @danielle_andlittles.
This question touched a nerve with Danielle, who says she often has exactly the same problem.
“It’s a tricky one because learning to share for a little one can be difficult. I find sitting with them and asking one to come and play with the other really helps, involving them both together, as then you’re in control of the sharing.
“I also find the best way to help them understand is, if they’ve just taken a toy, to then take it off them and ask how that made them feel. I always reinforce the importance of sharing.”
Yocana Salete Okonwo – MummyYoYo
As a full-time mum to son Zayne and daughter Cataleya, Yocana’s mission is to be transparent about family life. By sharing her stories and experiences, she hopes to comfort mothers who might be struggling and inspire them to keep following their dreams. You can find her at Mummy YoYo, on Instagram as @mummyyoyo, on Facebook and on Pinterest.
After experiencing battles over sharing between her own kids, Yocana finds teaching them to ask permission is a good tactic.
“Before, I’d just take the toy back and give it to the first child – and that always meant tears. Now, when either kid tries to grab something the other has, I ask them politely to give it back and tell them to ask before taking something.
“Of course, there are always days when one just wants to provoke the other – that’s normal. If they won’t stop fighting over the same toy and aren’t listening to me, I take it off both of them so that nobody can have it. I find they quickly forget about that particular toy and look for something else to play with.”
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