Wednesday, November 30, 2011


This is probably the most common disagreement in the house. Someone wants something another person has. Over and over and over.

I don't believe in "making" kids share. I feel like kids ought to be able to play with something and have a little sense of ownership without someone coming in and saying, "You have to give that to so-and-so. It's sharing."

In general, our rule is, "If someone has it, you can't take it. Wait until they are done with their turn and when they don't want it anymore, you can have a turn." Kids will lose interest in something eventually, though it does mean that sometimes someone gets a long "turn."

Sometimes I don't know who has something first and sometimes they both "take turns" in taking the desired object. Ha! When there's a big fuss, I'll ask everyone to breathe and then say that the object needs a break and can return to playing after things cool down. Breathing is big at our house. It's my answer to almost all out-of-control situations. Yelling? Whining? Fighting? Stop, breathe, then tell us what you want. I demonstrate the deep breaths with them. It took a little while for Margaret to "get it" and actually breathe with me, but consistently reminding her to breathe has helped. Now whenever she gets whiny, I ask her to breathe and immediately the whine is gone! Magic! Isaac doesn't get the breathing thing yet, but I trust that with repeated practice, he'll get it.

Isaac used to not care whether or not he had something in his hands. So Margaret thinks everything is hers. But most of our toys and other items in the house are communal. There is no "owner." We share a bed, we share the couch, we all can play with the toy food, blocks, animals, books, etc. But because everything is communal, nothing is hers, and like I said above, I think kids like to have ownership. Unfortunately because up until the past few months, Isaac didn't care about ownership, nothing is his and Margaret thinks everything is hers.

I'm hoping to remedy this at Christmas time. They are each going to get something that is solely theirs. I'm not sure what, but it'll be something. Margaret has a doll that I made her that is hers, I may make Isaac a similar doll.

In a similar vein, I can't really explain it, but I have the gut feeling that if we get rid of a lot of our stuff, there will be less fights over it. I'm currently de-cluttering a lot of the toys for this purpose.

I think "sharing" is going to be an issue for a while. We are going to be breathing a lot over the next few years.

What do you do for "sharing?"


  1. Your situation is very much the same as mine. All the stuff in our home is communal and sharing is hard.

    Each of the boys have a special rabbit and a special blanket that is theirs alone. The other boy can play with it but the owner can ALWAYS demand it back. "That is Soren's special blankie." "Give Carl back his Bunnicula." Even when friends come over, they better not get to comfortable playing with the bunnies because they could loose them at any moment.

    I think it helps Soren and Carl to have things that are uniquely their own but they still want to play with the same things at the same time often. And my responses are the same as yours.

    I think it will get better for you when Isaac is older and he can play *with* Margaret.

  2. Like you, I don't force my kids to share. If they have it first, they can play with it til they're done. They can't take toys from each other. And if a toy is causing grief, the toy gets taken away for a break. My kids each have a couple of things that are theirs--the boy has a Buzz/Woody doll and the girl has a stuffed dog--and they don't have to share those with anyone. The rest of the toys belong to everyone. I've found that rotating the toys helps to minimize some of the fighting. I try to pack some toys away and get "new" ones out each month. It's amazing how few toys you need if they're not all out at the same time. "New" toys=everyone is happy!

  3. I like the idea of having one toy that belongs only to a specific child. We definitely have sharing issues in our home (and Benji thinks that everything is his). I do like the idea of waiting to take turns until the first child is done. (And they seriously do have short attentions spans.) I think that would probably help kids learn that they don't deserve everything they want.

    I try to remember breathing for calming down, too. I read in a Mothering magazine about "blowing out the candles". That is where mom holds up however many fingers she deems necessary, and has the kid blow on them, and put them down with each breath. Benji likes that, and usually goes from tears to laughter in a matter of seconds. (I just need to remember to use it more often.)

  4. I do pretty much the same thing. If they are fighting over something that they reasonably could share like a train set, or...set of anything really (more than what just one kid could fit in their hands) then I ask them and encourage them to share. I can often calm down one of them enough to share with the other and then they play together. Doesn't always work though.

    Most toys are just one train or one figurine or whatever that they both want and I have them take turns. The person that had it first has the first turn and they can't take toys from each other or they have to give it back. If a turn is too long and there's still an issue I may tell them "one more minute and then it's his turn." If they have a specific limit and know their turn is ending soon they're more willing to give it up when it's time rather than saying "give it up now."

    In general, the toys, books, etc are all communal. But both kids also have their special blanket and "bed buddies" that are their own. They can both play with them but if the owner wants it back right now they can claim it right now because it's theirs. I also instituted this with J's bday present he got from his friends because it was given specifically to him.


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