We all want our children to be the loving, generous, and giving person that loves to share and be the best friend ever. So how to deal with toddlers fighting over toys? No matter if you have an only child or five of them these are the guidelines that will help you on your way and guide you with friends or sibling toddlers fighting over toys, or how to cope with kids sharing troubles.
This is my experience, and how we are getting on the right track…
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THE BEGINNERS MOM MISTAKE
When my firstborn daughter got her sister she was 3.5 years old. She was the happiest kid on Earth. She hugged her and kissed her a million times a day. We constantly had to remind her to be milder to her little sis. The love she had for her was tremendous.
Eventually, that little snowflake grew up, and by the time she was 2 years old, my firstborn had to face her biggest fear – sharing. Until then she had it all. The toys, the room, and everything in it were hers alone.
They started their siblings’ fights that seemed endless. During one day they quarreled a dozen times, minimum. At that time I made a huge mistake. For peace in the house, I constantly told my older daughter to let go of those toys and give them to her little sister.
˝You are a big girl now, let your sister play with it for a while˝
˝Don’t let her cry.˝
˝Let her play and I will reward you later.˝This is what I used to say. Silly me…
Those were my beginner mom’s mistake statements.
As time passed I realized that my method will do more harm than good. Their sister rivalry seemed to flare up even more, and my patience was coming to an end. I just couldn’t understand why do sisters fight so much?!
No matter if your child has a sibling or is an only child - kids sharing is something we must teach them when it comes to their relatives, friends, neighbors, or sometimes their own parents.
DON`T do this when toddlers are fighting over toys:
The child who plays with a toy whom we force to share – in my case the older child:
- Was constantly mad at me for making her indulge her little sister
- Started to say mean stuff about her sibling
- Wished her sister was never born
- Started saying I don`t love her as I used to – This one stabbed me the most
The one who really wants the toy and we forced someone to share – In my case the younger child:
- Was screaming for everything she wanted, knowing she will get it
- Didn`t understand the word – NO
- Wanted everything her sister had
They both were on their best way to becoming selfish people with no generosity in their hearts. I started to feel that I have failed as a parent. I must teach kids to share!
So, as a modern, Google mom, I started to do my research and read lots of studies and blogs on sibling toddlers fighting over toys and how to teach kids to share. I realized that all I did was just easier for me, and I was doing them an ill turn. I gathered all the information and composed my method of what to do next.
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DO this and teach toddlers to share
#1 NEVER TELL THEM TO GIVE UP THEIR TOY!
Forcing kids to share with a boy in the park just to be polite will not give us the results we desire. They will be mad and frustrated.
This is what I say now:
˝This is your toy, you can play with it as long as you like. Your sister will have to wait for her turn. When you are done let your sister know, I am sure she will be grateful.˝
- With this method, they get the opportunity to choose what to do and when.
- It gives them the privilege to indulge someone with their own choice and feel good about it.
- When I used this method for the first time, I was so stunned by how soon she gave her sister the toy. I was so happy and proud of her. I was on my best way to healing these siblings’ toddlers fighting over toys.
- But that is nothing compared to pride in her eyes and how important she felt at that moment. She realized how good it feels to be generous, to give, and to please someone.
Now she knows that she is the boss of her toys and how long she will play with them. Also, she oftentimes gives something right away. I guess she liked the feeling that woke up inside of her.
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#2 COMFORT THE WAITING CHILD
It`s a bit harder with the waiting child.
What do we teach the child who gets something the moment he cries:
- That it will get everything with that method
- They become more possessive over their toys
- Mom is the boss and my sister doesn’t need to be asked
- The child playing and his emotions are not important
- The more I protest the more I get
So, how do I bear with the waiting child? In my case a 2.5-year-old?
- The moment it starts I calmly tell her that she has to wait for her turn
- I try to entertain her in some other way
- When she cries… I always let her cry it out if she feels like it. I hold her and give her comfort. It is ok to cry… for everyone. While she is trying to settle down I repeat the same sentence: ˝You know your sister will give you the doll the moment she finishes playing. She took it first and you must wait for your turn. It’s ok to cry, but that is not the way to get the toy. I am always here for you.˝
- Even the youngest kids can learn that sharing toys is important. Here is one great study: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/does_sharing_come_naturally_to_kids
After 6 months of this method, I must confess to myself that there has been some massive progress in my toddler’s fighting over toys. Especially in my older daughter, who is now a 6-year-old. She enjoys taking turns with her sister.
You must know, it is not all roses and flowers… Toddler toy fights and a struggle for their position are still present. I regularly yell around the house sometimes like a crazy mom… But I believe we are on the right track.
The same goes for their friends or someone they have seen for the first time in their life. I let them experience the opportunity of being kind to someone, not forced into it.
One day we played with one girl at the park and she had lots of rings and jewelry on her. The moment my kid started to cry I used my method and explained to her that it is not hers and that she can ask the girl nicely to land it to her. While I was saying this in a peaceful way, this girl all of a sudden just wanted to give her the rings to play with! It was a win-win situation. My girl was really grateful, and this new friend felt so proud and good about herself.
You see, this method works for all kids… Not always, but sometimes to me while experiencing it seems like magic. To see those clever little heads grow and expand their soul.
Ask yourself these questions before you start:
- Do I want my child to be a generous person or to be selfish and keep everything to himself?
- Do I have the time for this method? Trust me… It is hard at the beginning, but later on, you will thank yourself for reading this and starting the process.
- Do I want my children to feel love and compassion one for another? Or do I want them to feel like rivals all the time?
- What kind of people do I want my children to become when they grow up? Do we want them to be friends or enemies with their peers?
- Is this really so important? Yes, it is!
What else can I do to teach kids to share?
- Show your children that you are also a generous person: Share your last cake with them, and show them how good it makes you feel. Or when they make you a Mother`s Day card, let them see the joyful tears in your eyes. Every emotion you give them they absorb like a little sponge.
- One tip that saves me from time to time is that when I buy some toys, hair ribbons, or a new dress, I buy them the same. It is not my rule, just some little stuff I enjoy once in a while.
- I know we are making some huge progress as I see my older daughter’s relationship with her best friend. I don’t want her to be generous only to her sister, but to her peers also. As I see the two of them sharing and keeping their secrets, making small gifts and drawings one for another, and being true friends it really makes me the happiest parent on the planet.
- It is important to talk to them about emotions and empathy also. How bad it feels to be left out. They need to understand how sad someone feels when waiting for their turn. We need to provide them with this knowledge in every situation possible. Read this study
- If you have two kids or more teach the older child a lesson when buying with their own money: Recently my older daughter went shopping with me with her own money for the first time. I explained to her that it would be nice if she bought something for her sister who is still too young to do so. She bought her this popular Pop It game, and just couldn’t wait to get home and surprise her. The little one hugged her saying: ˝Thank you, Bella! ˝ It was so an emotional moment for everyone. The pearls of happiness just popped out of my big girl’s eyes!
- You know… Just the time and the patience that you took to read this article means that you are a good parent who really cares. Don’t get discouraged soon… It’s a process. I constantly think that I could be a better mom and that I could do more. But there are moments when we don’t have the time or the patience. Don’t overthink it. Do the best that you can with the time that you have.
- Be sure to pass this method on to grandparents or anyone taking care of your kids. It needs consistency.
- To make this story short watch this video on YouTube. It’s the Atlantic`s animated video about parenting where Dr. Laura Markham, author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids reveals this surprising childrearing method. In just three minutes you will get the most important pieces of information.
My girls still have a lot to learn, and we as parents must be persistent in our methods. You can`t do it one day and not the other. Once you decide, don’t give up… I promise you that in a couple of months, you will see so much progress in your kid’s sharing behavior, and you will be proud of them and yourself.
WE ARE STRONGER THAN WE ALL THINK!