Have you ever invited other children over and watched in embarrassment as your little one literally slaps another kid’s wrist for trying to play with their toys? I’m certain that at one point, most kids feel it is their sworn duty to protect what is theirs. They go through a phase where sharing is not an option – in fact, it downright offends them.
When a landslide in Bududa - Uganda destroyed people’s lives and homes, my daughter wanted to give all her clothes away to the kids who lost theirs. Beautiful gesture it was, although let’s be honest here -generosity has it limits - she’d be walking around naked if she did that. I told her we’d start with some and also collect from family and friends. But she wasn’t always like that - when she was younger, she literally hid her toys every time another child came home!
Parents of toddlers know the ‘mine’ syndrome all too well. The worst part is that it sometimes spreads to things that don’t even belong to a certain child but they will fight for them anyway – even more discomforting!
But, as annoying as this can be, try not to get too dispirited by their behaviour. One thing’s for sure though – it’s not your parenting skills. Even better, there are ways to gently daunt this little situation before it even happens.
Anytime two toddlers are play together, it’s best to keep an eye on them. The second you sniff a potential situation about to erupt, dive in and take control. Distract them with another interesting toy or introduce them to a fun game.
Toddlers get bored and forget easily – therefore they somewhat appreciate distractions. When I sense my niece and her brother are going to fight over something, I tell her to be a sport and fetch me something from a room somewhere. By the time she gets back, the toy they were fighting for is history.
I know it’s hard to watch another kid being mean to your child but there is a way around that. For instance if your child is being rudely interrupted, find something similar or a close substitute. Tell them what a wonderful toy the one you are holding is but try not to overdo it otherwise you’ll start a new fight!
“I went to a party once and my three year old literally wanted to own the day. She kept crying for the presents and insisting that she cut the cake – a cake that wasn’t hers! I was so embarrassed seeing as none of the other kids cried for the presents. I carried her off and told her that that was the last time she would ever go to a party if she didn’t behave,” said Anita Mirembe, a working mother of one.
Chances are a child won’t really feel threatened by that because if there is one thing kids do, they live for the moment and therefore threats of not taking them to a future party will be handled when the time comes for that party. However, it will in one way diffuse the situation – at least for a while.
Most toddlers don’t understand the concept of sharing and all the talking in the world won’t change that. But try and put those words in examples – like you are telling a story or something. It might not come that instant but it will sink in sooner or later.