Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Sharing with Toddlers

I have two adorable nephews who are in the toddler stage of development right now. It is really fun to be a part of this time of exciting growth and change, especially as an aunt who doesn't have to worry about the parenting side of things. The other day I witnessed something classic. My husband was playing with one of our nephews-- I'll call him Nephew--and was teasing him a little bit with a toy. At first, Nephew was all smiles, but very quickly that happy toddler went from "this is a fun game" mode to "you have my toy and I want it back now" mode, which in turn led to a small, toddler tantrum. My husband later remarked to me how Nephew used to like playing little games like that, and it's interesting how that has changed. It made me think of a handout I got in college called the Toddler Property Laws. They are as follows:

Toddler Property Laws
If I like it, it's mine.
If it's in my hand, it's mine.
If I can take it from you, it's mine.
If I had it a little while ago, it's mine.
If it's mine, it must never appear to be yours in any way.
If it looks just like mine, it's mine.
If I saw it first, it's mine.
If you are playing with something and you put it down, it automatically becomes mine. 
If it's broken, it's yours.

It sort of reminds me of this...

Not exactly a "sharing is caring" sort of mentality...but that feeling of ownership and possessiveness is all part of the process of healthy development as toddlers begin to form their own identity and assert their independence. Although teaching children to share with others is good and important, at this age it is not realistic to expect them to be able to do it fully...or for very long...or even at all. Their ability to share will come later, but for now it's okay for them to hold the world in their hands and believe that it's all theirs. In doing so they are building an understanding of themselves in relation to everything around them- and that is a foundation they will build upon for the rest of their lives. Years down the road as that understanding is built with confidence and security, they will be able to separate themselves from tangible objects, and sharing will be easier for them to handle...most of the time. :)

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