We're running up against an issue that isn't unique to multiples, but I think the way you'd deal with it would be different if it were happening between children of different ages. Our boys are 9-months-old and have reached the stage where they want to play with whatever someone else has in their hand. They're getting into squabbles over toys almost constantly right now. If they were older, we'd be able to talk about taking turns. But at this age it just wouldn't sink in. One baby gets really upset during these snatch-fests, while the other just grins and thinks it's a hoot.
How did you deal with these types of situations? I am inclined to step back altogether, but I'm not sure that that is the best course of action. What worked for you?
At this age you can offer the other a toy with a perky voice. Usually works. "OOOO!!!! Look at this!! This one has a little bear on it!!"
When they get older, you can start teaching them "how" to settle a disagreement, rather than let them go at it.
Personally, for my own sanity, I don't think I would be able to listen to children fight..
Originally Posted by Nanasi
If they were older, we'd be able to talk about taking turns. But at this age it just wouldn't sink in.
I know it doesn't really sink in yet but I found that if I at least go through the actions and start early with talking them through it and demonstrating they get it on their own fairly early. My twins are 2 now and I still spend some time going through the motions. Lots of "OK, S, you want a turn. Tell C and I'm sure she'll let you have a turn when she's done" and "C, S would like a turn. Can he have that toy when you're all done with it?". Followed up by a thank you and hug. They do share on their own quite regularly now.
At 9 months, distracting while talking is about all I could do. I would be hesitant to let them figure it out on their own. I know my two would just end up hurting each other. Heck they still club each other over the head and bite if I don't intervene soon enough. If they're not being physical I try not to get involved. That goes for my older two dc's as well.
Mine are just a little older than yours... 10 months now! They are REALLY into toy theft! The other day, T thought K was getting too friendly with his toy and chose to rip his brother's sock off in retaliation!
So, yeah. We mostly do distraction. I try to "jump" on them before the theft actually happens, though, and I do talk through it. "Oh, it's T's turn with that right now... let's play with this till he's done!"
When they're that little, I mostly do step in when the squabbling starts-- distraction and redirection would be my baby-strategy. Around the time they turned three, though, I started waiting a bit before jumping right in to help-- an awful lot of the time, they manage to work it out all on their own. I wait until the yelling gets to be too much, or until there's a rule violation-- hitting, etc. Or I wait until one or more of them come to me and want help-- then we all sit down for "couch time" and talk it out.
Originally Posted by herdingkittens
My children are all impossible to distract - it's a trait that runs in my family - so as soon as they started snatching, I started teaching them our house rule which is "as long as A is playing with it, it is A's turn. Ask A if you can have a turn when s/he is finished."
I have the same problem, hergrace! One of the boys is so single-minded, no matter what he's doing.
I really would like to help them learn to work things out together, so perhaps talking it through is the way to go. I want to avoid becoming the arbitrator though. As a kid, it never felt fair when Mom decided the outcome of an argument.
When they are so young, it is hard not to be the arbiter at least some of the time. When the kids were young enough that they couldn't talk to me about what happened, I was usually supervising them closely enough to know who had a toy first. Things got trickier if hadn't seen the beginning of the interaction. Once the kids were able to tell me a bit about what happened, my rule - which I told them explicitly - was that if they couldn't agree on whose turn it was, it was nobody's turn and the toy got put away for a bit.
My approach is to (a) acknowledge the appeal of the toy in question, (b) state the rule that it was the first player's turn until s/he is done, (c) attempt to distract the one who doesn't have the toy, (d) point out to the one with toy that the sibling wants to play and it would be nice to share, and (e) comfort the one without the toy. And, if the toy was shared, I did my best to praise the sharer and encourage the one who got the toy to acknowledge the generosity.
I always believed that I might as well start talking about it as soon as it became an issue so that I could lay the seeds of understanding, even if they seemed so young. And, even before they had good words, as soon as they were walking (which with my kids was way too early), I encouraged hugs to say thank you.
There wasn't many items that my boys constantly fought over, and we had those squabbles for a long time. Went with distraction, mostly. Around a year and a half, we started purchasing a second of coveted toys. It just wasn't worth the constant tears. So we had fewer choices overall, but two of some things.
Distract and redirect is about all you can do, and it's the perfect strategy because it can easily evolve from waving another toy in front of the thief into the discussion, 'Beau is playing with the truck right now. Let's you and I play with these blocks' later on when they are old enough to understand. It worked pretty well with my 19 month old twin boys. We're still using it.