Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Ontario, Canada
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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.
mother of Patrick (7/31/03), and Michael, William, and Jocelyn (4/27/07)