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On option number 2 I think you accidently switched A and B around.

I would go with making it a rule that if the toy isn't yours you need to ask the owner if you can play with it. For Adam who hates to share, he may learn in that way that if he says no every time Kate asks to play with something of his, she'll also start saying no when he asks to play with hers.

This way is more true to life. Presuming of course that you ask Marko before you play with his toys too :)

Something odd going on with your poll. Ten votes but the tally says 5 and the "Other" option gets 100% score??

I have the same problem with the triplets - but now I have a firm rule. If the "owner" of the toy was not playing with it at that specific moment, the other 2 may play with the toy. If they cannot share and start to fight I take the toy away and no one plays with it - end of story. If one takes the others toy just to torment - the toy goes back to the owner (who still must learn to share).

It's so difficult.... Why don't these little people come with an instruction manual like the fridge, microwave and DVD player? I think that if it is a "special" toy (like the bear he/she sleeps with; or a special Barbie, or a Racing Car that is treasured) then sharing shouldn't be allowed if it causes either stress. But, if it's just the "old" bulldozer or Winne-the-Pooh then they need to learn to share.

I was a nanny for a long time, and I found the best way to solve the problem of fighting over toys is: The kid who wants the toy has to sing his ABC's (with my help if hes too young...splendid way to teach the alphabet too) and then once they are done, they get the toy. Then the other kid can sing and get the toy. It can go back and forth for as long as they both want to play with the same toy. Usually one kid gets bored right away though.

What I do, which may work for you, is that I let the kid who grabbed it play with it first. But not for too long, and only if they're careful with the toy and not damaging it. Then the other kid can have it back, but only if they're actually playing with it. If the owner of the toy hold it for 2 seconds and put it down then if the non-owner wants it, they can have it.

Oh, my only exception is for toys that have only just been received or really precious. E.g. a birthday present. The non-owner gets a short, supervised turn, and then the owner gets it back.

I read an idea once that made a lot of sense - keep the "private" toys in the bedroom. Any toy out in the loungeroom/whatever has to be shared if the other kid wants a turn.

Here the child who owns the toy can have it BUT on the strict provisio that they cannot then share any of the other child's toys. Then I find the funnest toy I can which belongs to the other child (who had the original toy first) and play that with them. Of course the owner of the first toy then wants to join in but can't because "we don't share in this house" - usually works a treat. My girls are very close in age, so really after a while most toys become communal anyway.

I would go with the sharing scenario, and point out that the first child may play with it for a few minutes but then it goes to the owner, who may also play with it a few minutes before passing it back. Toddlers tend not to have the patience or attention span to hang around for this so they let it go, having been reassured that you will give them a chance with the toy. Its basically the same thing that you would do if you had a playgroup or were in the park with some toys. I actually hate this "reverse psychology" business of trying to convince the owner of the toy that he can be selfish, but its no fun. I feel like, in my house, we share- whether we like it or not. If there is one toy that is particularly special (a doo-doo, or lovey, or whatever) than that doesn't have to be shared. I think it depends on what you want you want your children to be like, but in our house, hitting is not allowed, nor throwing food, nor being selfish with toys, not yelling at your parents. I think it boils down to respect for others. But having said all that, I think you need to decide what you want to teach your children and maybe the end result is all the same anyway?

Here's our solution:

Each child has a special place (a box, a cubbie, we use dirt cheap net bags from IKEA that dangle over their beds) which is entirely theirs -- the other child is not allowed to take anything out of there. So when Child 1 has a toy he doesn't want to share with Child 2, he has to keep that toy in that place in order to keep it safe. Once the toy is outside (and not being played with), all bets are off and it must be shared. The special place shouldn't be too big as to prevent the dearies from stashing away their entire toy collection. It works like a charm for us but it did take a day or two or three for the concept to sink in.

Good luck!

I like Claudia's suggestion of the special place. We have an only child and she does get possessive over her special toys. So when she's going to have a playdate, we put away out of sight any toys that she doesn't want to share. Too hard when the playdate never ends, LOL! But I think it is OK to have a distinction between toys that are special for a child and others that are general sharing toys.

I'm with Jeanne. I think that Kate should ask Adam if she wants to play with one his toys and the same should go for Adam. It will teach them to respect one another as well the other persons things.
However, there are always going to be toys that the child does not want to share. Normally before a playdate my son would pack away anything "special" that he does not want anyone else to play with. The "special" toy would normally be something new that he hasn't had for long. Once the novelty of the "special" new toy wears off, we stop packing it away and he is more than willing to share it.

Oh dear. Same problem here, except that Tobias cannot defend himself and his toys (yet). I still make Saskia ask him if she can have the toy to play with. If it was just lying around unused at the moment, I pretend that Tobias agreed. If she takes away something Tobias is currently playing with, I tell her to give it back & she can have it later when Tobias doesn't need it anymore.

Sometimes you just don't HAVE to share. Sharing is not a RULE, it's polite but not mandatory. However, they should learn to sort things out on thier own. It has to start somewhere.

Let them sort it out on their own. I highly recommend Siblings Without Rivalry... not that I have test driven it with my own kids, but my SIL who has twins swears by it.

That said, I agree with Claudia's suggestion too - but be careful who is arbitrating the rules. When kids fight it's often way more about getting your attention than the actual fight.

I first try to ask child B to give the toy back to child A. Then if that does not work I ask child A, if he can wait until child B is done with the toy (usually never works). If the screaming continues, I tell them since they can not share the toy nicely it must go away for awhile, and I take it. Of course they both scream, but it's very short lived and they seem to move on to something else. What I find with my twins, is they would prefer that nobody gets the toy then to see the other with it. I'm not sure if this is bad thing, but it works for us.

One morning I gathered ALL of our toys in one area and asked the children to pick out their favorites and put them in a basket that I would designate theirs in our toy storage cabinet. I used a market to write their first initial on every toy in their basket. We made a house rule that Clay couldn't play with one of Travis' favorites unless he asked and vice versa. All other toys were fair game, whoever pulled them out first gets to play with them. If there is an issue, which rarely happens now, they both know that I will remove whatever toy the fuss is about for the ENTIRE day if they can't work it out peacefully.

Do you have house rules yet? It made a v dramatic change in our family life. We created rules to protect the health, safety, and rights of everyone in the family. We also created logical consequences that we'll enforce when our rules are broken. I've found that having a plan in place helps us all because I tend to make mistakes when I am flying by the seat of my pants. When I'd reflect over my parenting career I used to think damn I should have done xyz. I am a much more confident parent now and my kids are happier because they know what is expected of them. Consistant rules and consequences are the key, IMO, to raising a well balanced child.

I'm with everyone else suggesting that Kate has two or, at most, three Special Toys that are not to be touched, and Adam has as well. All others are toys that must be shared.

It sounds like Adam's truck is something that he shouldn't have to share. Having items that are totally hand's off to the other puts the fault entirly where it lies, with the kid who's touching the other's stuff just to get a rise out of them.

Mmmm...I dont have much experience as a mother because I only have an 8 month old little boy...However, I AM the youngest of 7 children. We had to learn very quickly how to share or 'hide your toys/belongings somewhere very deep in the house so that noone else would find them'...if you didnt want that item shared. I was VERY creative and I knocked a hole in the drywall behind my bed. I hid my most favorite treasures in there (inside of a bag so it didnt get dusty). It worked for a while!

But, I imagine being a twin would be difficult. I mean, think about everything they HAVE to share already without a choice?

Whatever you decide, Im sure it will workout...because you wont settle for less for your kids :)

When I was a kid we NEVER demanded or argued over toys, regardless of who they belonged to. Because MY Mother would take the toy and put it on the top shelf of a closet if we so much as hinted that we wanted each other's toys or clothes or purse (four girls; I'm the oldest.) She wouldn't have it! We shared everything and if you took something from another, everyone lost. As we grew up we learned to "schedule" our clothes, shoes, jewelry, etc., so only we knew who got what when and kept her outta the loop. I think she was unreasonable with this when we were young but as we grew we never argued over stuff. As an adult I'll share whatever I got with ya.

I read a story once by a woman who had something like 5 kids. Her rule was that the kid who owned the toy was at no obligation to share and could always take the toy away - period. She did this to avoid spending her whole life being a referee.

Something to think about. There are other ways to teach kids to share and you can mention how nice it is to share once in a while but remember that kids under the age of six really don't know how to put themselves in someone else's shoes. All that 'think of how soandso would feel' is just wasted breath - they can't do it.

My son has control of all wheels-related toys. He's really, super-possessive of cars, trains, airplanes etc. and has been since infanthood. We taught our daughter (who is four years older and should know better by know hehehe), that anything that is specifically his (cars etc.) ARE HIS ALONE and she needs to ask before she touches. Or not touch at all. If he picks up something of hers and she freaks out, I usually take possession of the toy and make him ask for it. If she says no, I tell her to put it away, or let him have it. If you know Kate is doing it for a reaction, then she should have to give it back, and then ASK Adam for the toy. He's also allowed to say no.

Too young to sort it out themselves yet - they still need lots of help from you. MOST of the time, just get it back to Adam, meanwhile teaching Kate (slowly) to ask Adam first.

They will eventually learn to share - but we as adults are not required to share as often as we make toddlers do it, so I don't get why they have to give over possession all the time when we don't. I still am fairly possessive and that's OK.

I said Tell A they have to share but I do look at it case by case. First of all, if it is a very special toy (and in my mind, there can't be too many of those, one or two maybe that they sleep with or something) I may insist that B give it up. Secondly, I look at intent. I have a daughter too that likes to push my son's buttons. If she were to take something for the sole reason that it would piss her brother off, she can hand it back or let her brother chose something of hers to play with. That usually makes they toy less desirable. But generally speaking, I would tell B they had to share and let them scream. Its a better lesson learned now that say, when they are grown and married off.

We had this problem in our church nursery. I started taking the toy away and putting it out of the reach (a toy "time-out" if you will), even if the toy came along to church from home for the morning. It was a rough couple of Sundays, but eventually, the children stopped fighting over prized toys, cause they knew they'd lose them. Parents went along with it, and we haven't haven't had the problem since. A little one snatching a toy out of another's hands is different, that's just mean and deserves a time out and the victim should get the toy back. I don't know how toy time out would work with your twins, Lisame says it worked for her, however she does think it was a little unreasonable. I don't think it's unreasonable.

No comment, since I have just the one.

Completely unrelated: still *no so* patiently waiting for an update on our favorate Ovary and her amazing girl!

Oops, I may have confused some of my A's and B's there. Sorry about that. I hope you know what I mean.

We recently moved into a larger house. In doing so, each child was given his own room. It was wonderful because there was no longer a need to have toys in the living room, but it was hard at first because we had to figure out what toys to put in each room. We divided them based on age-appropriateness, but it was still hard for Mega, who will be 3 in November, because before, they were "all his." They both play in the other's room and there are a few toys Mega is still sensitive about. I usually sit with Skeeter (who is a year old tomorrow) while he plays with the toy and explain to Mega that Skeeter is not hurting the toy, that he will be done with it in a moment, and that he can play with it after Skeeter is done. Skeeter gets bored with the toy, moves on, Mega snatches it, gets bored, and moves on. It took a bit of "holding back the bull" the first 3-4 days I tried that, but after that, Mega caught on. Now he usually just tugs on me and tells me Skeeter has something he wants. I gently remind him that he won't destroy the truck, and that he, Mega, may have a turn when Skeeter is done. Only when one child is extremely tired or otherwise cranky do we run into problems... I know it's a bit different since the twins are the same age, but maybe some similar approach will work for you guys! Good luck!

This is the rule in our playgroup and I also follow it at home. Child A notices Child B playing with his toy and wants it back. Child B gets it for 2 minutes (a timer is set), then must give it to Child A who gets it for 2 minutes. After a while, you don't need to set a timer, but you do need to make sure they are taking turns with it. Usually, one child forgets and the other carries the toy around like a coveted prize for outlasting the other child. :)

I'm a twin myself (with a twin brother) and I do think it's important to let them have a few things that are "theirs alone," but that the rest should be shared. I enjoyed growing up as a twin, but you're already sharing birthdays/friends/activities/etc. so I think letting them have some things that are clearly their own is healthy.

Well, first, I've heard that toddlers respond better to "take turns" than to "share," which is too fuzzy a concept for them. My turn, your turn, my turn, OK. It belongs to me but I have to let someone else play with it?! What sort of f'ed up notion of property is that?! Aaaah!

OK, second, in our house, the rule is that you can declare certain toys yours and yours alone, but then you can only play with them in your room, by yourself. If you're in a common area, you have to take turns. But this approach doesn't work for families in which the kids don't each have a room, and it doesn't work if you aren't comfortable letting your child ply out of your eyesight.

I have only one - almost exactly the same age as A&K - and we're just getting into the sharing thing on playdates etc. Normally I insist that she shares everything, saying that it would be very 'friendly' to give the other child a turn. She's actually pretty good with this, as long as someone is ensuring that she gets her turn a few moments later. After a bit of turn and turn about one of the kids gets bored anyway. I have however noticed that there are one or two toys where she goes ballistic if someone so much as touches them, and I make sure they're hidden from view before a playdate. I also ask that she say thank you to any kid who lets her play with a toy. All requires rather a lot of supervision though, so these rules aren't ALWAYS strictly enforced...

One recent memory comes to mind... we are at a playdate with an only child. Everything my child picks up the other child screams, "That is my special toy" apparently her mother taught her that it is ok not to share her "special toys".
Good luck.

I wrote this on the poll, but I also wanted to post this here. I agree with Chris on setting time limits. This method came from working with autistic children and teaching them to take turns and share: if Kate has Adam's toy and he gets mad, explain that Kate has one more minute (or two), then it will be Adam's turn. If Kate still wants it during Adam's turn, then Adam has one more minute until it's Kate's turn again. This way they KNOW they will get another turn, and they know it will be enforced. If they still argue during the taking turns, then they are warned that unless they continue taking turns, no one can have the toy and it gets put away.

Hope that helps.

I put other and for me it would be both. You knew in this situation it was totally about pissing of Adam. She has to give it back. But, if she was truly playing with it and he hadn't been, he needs to share.

Siblings Without Rivalry by Faber/Mazlish is the manual you want. If you can't get it in SA email me and I will mail you a copy. I have a package of baby items for your sister to send anyway.

Go by Kate her own damn bulldozer! Geez! LOL

I do count sharing with my three year old twins - regardless of whose toy it is or who has it first. If Twin A has the toy and the other wants it and a fight starts we start the count - I count back from 20 to 1 and then they switch and Twin B plays - if the squabbling continues we count again from 20 back to 1 and switch again. So BOTH play with it and have equal time.

It works in our house and eventually one twin could care less and walks away or we count for awhile but at least they aren't beating each other.

Generally speaking, we don't have any one-person-owned toys in the house. I have three boys (ages 2, 5, 8) and all the toys belong to all of them. There are a few exceptions. For example, 8yo has a Game Boy, which the others are not free to borrow. However, it is 8yo's job to put it away (not leave it lying around).

Have you paged through Siblings Without Rivalry?

When my children were younger, I usually tried to prevent this kind of situations. Which means: when you see Kate eyeing the bulldozer or anything really really belonging to Adam *not* the stuff they share ... then tell her, you will have to ask Adam for it. And if Adam says no, you may offer to put the timer for 5 minutes, and then Kate has to give it back.

Actually, with my girls (15 and 8) I still use the timer...

But in my house, there were everybody's toys, and there were special toys, and if you wish to play with them, you should ask. Because you would like to be asked, too, wouldn't you, sweetie? And you know, letting her play with it is really nice of you and very grown up. I appreciate it!

If they start making a fuss about everybody's toys, though, put an end to it.

Usually they do these little shows for attention. Getting positive attention like being asked and being praised for saying yes, is better than getting negative attention.

She's bright - give her a time out for taking Adam's toy just to get attention. Tell her she can't play with it, it is his, and she must give it back, then put her in time out for starting the whole nonsense in the first place.

Oh Tertia,

I have debated this endlessly in my head. I have to come back and read all the good info.

I have 5 kids. And I have been so inconsistent with this. I was thinking this morning that the new rule will be that the kid can play with it for a limited time and if there are really "special" toys that the owner does not one anyone to play with, then to put them away in their room, so this isn't an issue. My kids are 9, 7, 5, 2, and baby.

The problem with always letting the owner take the toy, is they become very selfish and never share. Then the others learn this and become selfish with their toys as well. 9year old doesn't let them play, so now neither do the 7 and 5 year old. And really do I have to buy 10 more polly toys so the younger girls can play with them, or balls, or dinos? no.

However I realize that their are some special toys, ownership - especially in a large household - is important. But I really hate when older son comes in and takes younger son's plane away from him because it is "his". And all the planes, cars, etc. are "technically" his but he really doesn't play with them much...and there is so many! Grrr.

So, hopefully these readers have the answer...

Yeah, I'd say motivation is key. If she really is doing it just to dick with him, make her stop dicking with him.

If she really wants to play with the toy, see what y'all can work out as regards to sharing. Taking turns? Trading off? The 'certain toys are mine, the rest are ours' idea seemed especially nice.

I also like the nuclear option: If you can't stop fighting over X, X belongs to Mom now.

No kids yet*, but I did have a sibling, and we did pretty well on the sharing.

*You know what I mean.

I have 5 kids and this happens ALL the time at ALL different ages. I usually give them a couple minutes to work it out suggesting solutions (ie. maybe she could play with it for two mins, or wouldn't you rather play this.. or give it back) then if they can't work it out, or they get violent I give the TOY a time out. I will then give the toy back to the child it belongs to after 5 mins or so, and tell them if it is special then they need to keep it somewhere where only they can get at it. Usually they won't fight because they know then they both lose the toy. They have also come up with some really creative ways to work on sharing.

I have two rules:

1. All toys and books are communal.
2. You may not take a toy while someone else is playing with it.

I grew up as one of three and all we did was argue/negotiate/sneak each other's toys/retaliate/whine to mom about that stuff. No matter how it was handled, it escalated. It didn't stop until we were in high school - we were *always* measuring who has the best stuff and why does she always get the best stuff, etc etc. Or messing with each other by hiding each others' stuff. Yuck, what a waste of time. Hence, my rules. It worked very very well for my kids, who weren't terribly possessive to start with.

One of my friends had the same rules with one caveat: special "no share" toys stay on the child's bed.

We do the special place idea, especially for play dates. And I don't believe children should be forced to share all the time. It isn't real life, do you share all your stuff? My daughter has learned that she has a say about her stuff and almost always shares everything now.

My kids get to pick a couple of special things they don't have to share. Their special blanket and their lovey. And anything really not age-appropriate. Everything else is fair game. Child A may say they'd like to have the next turn, but she (in my house it's always she) may not take it away from child B.

If I can't tell what started it/who had it first/whose turn it should be/whatever, I tell them that if they can't work it out, I'm taking it away for the rest of the day. And then I do.

I deal with this all the time with my 5-yo and 2 1/2-yo. And I agree with Tripsmom, I do the SAME thing. The owner doesn't get to snatch it away just because (s)he owns it. And fighting results in the toy getting a timeout. But I do try and reinforce, with both of them, that the item in question "belongs to" the owner, and that when the other one gets done playing with it, it STILL "belongs to" the owner. Sometimes that seems to help - my kids seem to think that "playing with" = "takes ownership of". (Too bad it doesn't ALWAYS help...)

Looks like lots of good suggestions. Only experience is with DS and his cousin. We have been trying to emphasize taking turns and sharing.
The taking turns works well for some things. But I realize it is different because the toys are usually ALL one child's or the other depending on which house we get together so sharing makes more sense. Below is a link to a book called "I Can Share" on Amazon.com
It has a good message and my son enjoys listening to it.


I need to go back and read all the suggestions and ideas given so far, there might be something that would be a good tool in our house as well. While my two aren't twins, they are only 20 months apart and therefore have like interests, despite the fact that they are of different sexes. In our family, there might be some clearly drawn lines about SOME toys that are extra special to one child but the rest are shared. If one child picks up a toy that is not being played with that belongs to the other child, I would usually insist that the child who picked up the toy may play with it for a while, but as soon as they are done they must give it back to the other one, with the exception of a few very special favorites. In that instance our children seem to grasp the fact that this is a special favorite and they must give it back OR ASK if they can play with it. Often the child, whose toy is being fought over, will, if ASKED, say that the other child CAN play with it. If not, I'm teaching my child that sometimes you don't have to share something that is special to you and you have to respect that.

It's not always easy and sometimes I DO have to take the toy away completely and put it in time out, or ask the child to take the toy and put it in their room if they don't want someone to play with it, but often it actually does work out pretty well.

It also helps that my daughter has learned in preschool not to grab something from someone else when they are using it and to ask instead "May I play with that when you are done with it?" Surprisingly often the child with the toy doesn't play with it much longer and hands it over peacefully. Most of the time, I admit, I'm shocked. :o)

Tertia - what happened to the blow job post? It showed up in my feeds, but it isn't here...I must live vicariously on your celebrity lifestyle!

Tertia, I have no advice for you regarding the twins. I only have an eleven-month-old singleton.

However, and I know this is totally off-topic. I remember you said Karen was going to have a guest post on your blog... Did that happen already and I missed it? Or has it not happened yet?

Sorry to be a bother; I would hate to have missed it. I miss reading the Naked Ovary.

There are a few suggestions of the "special" items (you mentioned the bulldozer was special) be kept separate from the majority toys in a different place. Thats exactly what I was going to suggest. If it is special, it goes in the special place, however if its out in general pop. then its fair game and I think at this stage of the game (literally), it might be wise to have them with you when you pick out the special keeping place container(the ikea net, a small cube etc) so that they understand that it is completely theirs _and_ that the other one belongs to the other child..

There has to be some consequence for taking toys out of the other's special place and also for initiating a fight when its left out of the special place and the other takes it and plays with it for reaction. Perhaps that the special place toys for the 'trouble maker' are fair game for 2 hrs. Or something?

Anyways, my 99cents worth.

Generally speaking, the kid who had it first should be allowed to play with it, especially if the other child was not previously interested in it. On most levels, sharing should always be the norm. However, there is also nothing wrong with having both Adam and Kate pick a "special toy" that they can each keep in a special place and is only for them. I've seen a lot of parents with children close in age do this and find success. Doesn't work for everyone, but it's worth a try.

I have a 3 and 6 year old (both girls).When one starts whining that the other has their toy I usually remind them its good to share and then inform the one whose toy was taken that they may also go "lend" any toy they want to play with that belongs to the other child.
Childish but it works because my six year old has more things she doesnt want to share and shes usually the one who is doing the tantalising (playing with a toy to irritate) so she quickly gives the other daughters toy back before the younger ones takes something of hers.

The only things that truly only belong to each of my twins are their lovies. Although many of the toys are "theirs" because they are more "boy toys" or "girl toys" and were given to one child in particular at date of distribution, there are many that both love to play with.
It gets hard when you give your son a Diego backpack and your daughter a Dora backpack and both are over Dora now and both LURVE Diego...
So, what i say is, "We share everything". Whoever picks up a toy (even if it is just to mess with the other one) from the floor gets to play with it. Then i say, "It is Samantha's/Evan's turn now and next it will be your turn". It always works. (2 minutes tops). I consistently always say that and they get it. And then they give it up.
If one grabs a toy away from one's hands, well, of course that is a whole other matter and the toy is returned to the original holder's hands.
Sometimes a meltdown begins when the other is holding a toy perceived to be owned by the non-holding twin. If they are that upset about the darn thing I will frequently ask the toy-holder to let the other play with it and to share and they will always give it over because they feel bad about the other's distress.
I know they only do it b/c i have been doing this from the beginning without wavering.
The goal is to allow them to have their own "special" lovies, while teaching them respect, sharing, etc. with everything else.
It is VERY hard with twins.

I put:

If you spot it before A does, distract him briefly saying "Let's play with this now", while warning B "you need to stop playing with that in one minute". Then take the toy from B, give it to A, and exit the scene with B and another delightfully distracting toy.

Hopefully having them in different rooms while B is cross because the toy was taken away, will at least stop them from hitting each other. They might not be old enough to work out that "retaliating" will irritate the other one, yet. Might also help if you have a rule that if A asks really nicely then B needs to give them the toy after a minute.

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