Remind me how to handle sharing with a 3-year-old - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 02-24-2013, 09:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have 3-yo and a 2-yo DS's, and they fight over toys constantly. DS2 (the 2yo) is relatively easy going, but DS1 (who will be 4 in May) has a LOT of trouble sharing. He doesn't want DS2 to use his (DS1's) legos, for example, yet he feels like it's ok to "help" DS2 play with his duplos (which basically means moving in on DS2's territory and using his toys).

 

I have tried:

1. saying that any toys in playroom or living room are for sharing, and if DS1 wants to play by himself, he should go to his room and close the door. - this has NEVER worked. DS1 will not go play alone.

2. explaining that DS1 doesn't like it when DS2 uses his things, even going so far as to send DS2 over to play with DS1's legos when DS1 is infringing on DS2's toys - this just leaves DS1 ridiculously overwhelmed and tantrummy--because he wants to play with EVERYTHING at the same time and can't handle it if he has to decide between throwing his brother off of his legos or giving up his brother's toys that he's currently playing with.

3. Saying, "We have to share." - doesn't help

 

What HAS been working recently is talking about taking turns, using words to ask for toys and waiting patiently instead of grabbing, but understanding that his brother might not want to share and that's ok...

 

This all works in the short term, but it is very hard to keep it up when it's just me watching both kids. The "mine mine mine" thing is CONSTANT. I know it's a developmental stage, but how do I help guide DS1 toward understanding sharing and caring behavior?


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#2 of 8 Old 02-24-2013, 10:23 PM
 
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I'm reading "his" legos and "his" duplos. One thing we do at our house is labeling the toys "the" toys, not his or hers'. The deal here is that you get to hog a toy the day that you get it and after that, the toys are essentially community property.


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#3 of 8 Old 02-24-2013, 11:04 PM
 
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hi,

try to get his concerns about sharing on the table - take your time so he feels understood and we have a good idea of what his concerns are all about , explain your concerns , define the problem and then invite him to think of solutions that are mutually satisfactory 

 

he could have a toy/s that are his and he does not need to share and other toys that are there for sharing 

 

not easy 

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#4 of 8 Old 02-25-2013, 08:27 AM
 
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Do you have my children?

 

My girls are close together in age as well, and as soon as dd2 was old enough to be interested in toys, dd1 started getting upset every time dd2 began playing.  And just like your older son, she seemed incapable of sharing the way other kids were being expected to share.  At playdates, she was regularly put into tears by the other girls who came over demanding that she share the game she had going.

 

It was extreme, in our case.  DD2 was getting old enough to need toys to play with that weren't baby toys.  I did try the "if it's on the floor" and dd1 started putting every toy in a huge bag and hauling it around with her.  We had to hide or get rid of every large bag in the house to keep this fairly reasonable.  We also tried the bedroom to no avail.  DD1 felt banished.

 

Her intensity forced me to reconsider the status quo advice for getting kids to share.  From our playdate experiences, I also came to the conclusion that this can wind up being "forced sharing" and that is just as selfish and keeping all the toys to yourself.  OK, maybe in the Laura Ingalls universe, where a doll, a chipped cup, and a little wooden man constituted all your toys, I might say "yes, share!", but every house at playdates including mine was awash with toys.  These girls were coming over to my then-3yo daughter and saying "you have to share" and then hovering until dd was in tears and ready not only to go home but never to return.  It really upset me.  She had a good story going with the animals-- ones we had chosen with some good conversation at the beginning, saying that she did have to share so to only pick a few, she couldn't pick all the animals and that should be good.  (She sometimes did pick all, knowing that she was supposed to share when asked).  It didn't help much, either with the inevitable demands for sharing (the whole game, not just a few animals of dd's choosing or some other intermediate solution) and dd's heartfelt tears.

 

Sigh!  

 

The house rules ended up being that you didn't have to share one particular game if you were playing with it.  My girls were both told they needed to find another game after asking if they could take a turn--no hovering.  For a time, I had certain groupings of toys that were or weren't allowed to be piled onto their game (to prevent the hoarding that had been happening.  This was a temporary rule.)  

 

They did take turns, though not always well.  They did learn to find other games to play while waiting, a skill I felt was a really good one (kids see another kid play with a toy, and even though it's been sitting, ignored, in plain sight, suddenly it's the IT toy!)

 

I must admit, that it really was last ditch effort to maintain sanity, but I did learn a few good things along the way (like disliking kids hovering, demanding a part of the game).  It was not ideal.  I would have loved to have my girls be eager to let each other in to an established game.  They did learn to play better, once dd2 was about 2.5 especially.  They are excellent at taking turns, and they never are that kid standing and hovering over a toy (they were not allowed to in any setting-- something that no other child seemed capable of).  

 

Unfortunately, they are still not great at sharing in the standard way, which I think is something of a handicap socially, but then I consider what I started with, the intensity of what I was dealing with, and I am satisfied.  At 6 and 8, we still have these conversations, for sure.  Kinda frustrating, for sure, but I have to remind myself of where I started, and I let it go.


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#5 of 8 Old 02-25-2013, 09:44 AM
 
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My kids are 4.5 and 1.5.   I have been doing a lot of thinking on the idea of sharing items.  I've come to this, albeit quick and not entirely thought through, conclusion for now:

 

How often do we, as adults, have to share our personal belongings?  Perhaps we take turns using the laptop or choosing a TV show, but rarely in my adult life have I found the need to really share personal belongings.  I get the idea behind it being instilling (forced?) comradery and community, but it still feels very contrived and unrealistic.  

 

Instead, I am thinking about focusing more on how to live together peacefully and share in a greater sense of time and space in general.  Like SweetSilver, I've been redirecting one child or the other and discouraging snatching and hovering.  I'm always modeling how to be open and inviting to those interested in what I'm doing, but I'm not forcing anything besides the non-violence requirement.  If anything, my kids are more likely the ones who are hoping and trying to share and engage other kids who might be more used to fighting for property in a larger group setting.  Since they rarely have the feeling of lack or limit on playthings, they are more free with them (?).  THis, of course, also depends on the emptional and physical state of the child at the time- hungry, disconnected, shunned, or tired will always result in some form of drama.

 

Perhaps I am transitioning into lazy parenthood, or perhaps I am just choosing not to use the large group of children mentality, where sharing would be much more necessary.  My kids aren't in preschool, and I am fairly certain we will be homeschooling, so that mentality is of no use to us.  My kids are pretty great about sharing community property such as swings and slides at the park, toys that they and others bring, etc...  I think it's mostly just an age-old young sibling dynamic that is unavoidable.

 

No solutions to offer, but maybe a different perspective can be helpful?  

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#6 of 8 Old 02-25-2013, 12:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mama Amie View Post

 

How often do we, as adults, have to share our personal belongings?  Perhaps we take turns using the laptop or choosing a TV show, but rarely in my adult life have I found the need to really share personal belongings.  I get the idea behind it being instilling (forced?) comradery and community, but it still feels very contrived and unrealistic.  

So true. Actually, one episode of the Olivia movie we have is about that! The mom is asking the daughter to share, and the daughter has this daydream about what would happen if the neighbor walked into the mom's house, took her car keys, and when the mom complains, the neighbor says, "remember, it's nice to share." Or something like that.

 

We do live with a lot of stuff that's "ours." With the legos/duplos, it was the first toy(s) that we bought that was meant to be proprietary to either DS1 or DS2... in an effort to see if having their "own" toys would help with the sharing/not sharing bit. Giving them something to feel like they could hold onto. But it doesn't really change the dynamic...

 

Although I have to say, we just had a play date where there were 4 kids in the house other than mine, and they all shared wonderfully and played wonderfully together. So maybe it's just a brother thing. I think I just get tired of being a constant mediator.


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#7 of 8 Old 02-25-2013, 05:29 PM
 
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Well I live in a house with 9 people, 7 of those people are adults.  So yes, I have to "share" stuff, space, etc with lots of adults all the time.  I realize most people do not live communally, but whenever the example of "as an adult you'd never have to share like that" comes up, I always think "I do. You might not but that doesn't mean no one does."  Granted mostly it is "taking turns"  (but we share food, we share costs, we share space, we share electronics, we share appliances etc).

 

With Ds we "take turns."  Taking turns is also what we do at the preschool I teach at/ds goes to. We take turns with things that multiple people can't use at the same time.  If multiple people *can* use it at the same time then the "rule" is "no excluding."  For example, blocks.  Blocks can be used by many people at once.  You may not hoard all the blocks.  You may say that someone else CANNOT knock down your tower.  And if you want to knock something down that you did not build or built with the help of others you have to ask for consent from the builders.  Another example would be a ride on toy.  Not easy for more than one person to use at once.  So we help the kid who wants a turn to say "I would like a turn with the car when you are finished. Please let me know when you are done."

 

With siblings (and we have a baby in our house who is not ds's sibling as she has other parents, but we live with her) I would reduce the ownership of the toys as much as possible.  It is not ds's play kitchen. It is "the" play kitchen.  It is for everyone to use.  Right now ds is 5.5 years old and the baby is 20 months so there are things she can't play with (little legos, playmobil, tiny beads, some art supplies etc) those are ds's right now.  But when she is old enough for those to be downstairs in common space, they will be for everyone to use.  The same way it is not my blender or my cast iron pan (even though I brought those things into the house and if I leave they are coming with me) while we are all living together it is "the blender" and "the cast iron pan."
 

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#8 of 8 Old 02-25-2013, 07:00 PM
 
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We did not start having singular ownership over anything until the girls started buying toys with their allowance.


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