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Toddlers and Sharing

When your babies become toddlers they start to realize there's more to the world than just eating and sleeping. Because twins, triplets, and more already have a built-in playmate, fighting over toys or just about anything happens earlier and more often. Twins and other multiples also learn about sharing much earlier than singleton children do, and, they actually do quite a bit of sharing voluntarily.

Fighting and bickering over toys and other things usually begins around the age of 15 months, sometimes earlier. There's usually an element of jealousy as well as power struggles, teasing, and attention seeking involved because one thinks that the other always has something better. Fortunately by the age of three things start to change and by four, they realize it more fun to have two different things than two of the same.

1. When to Buy Two (or more)

It's important that each twin or triplet has his or her own toys and possessions because this forms the basis for learning how to share. Buying two of the same item is a good idea for things like arts and crafts supplies, dolls and accessories (e.g. strollers), trucks, riding-type toys, and tricycles.

Keep in mind these not all of these items have to be identical. They can be the same style or model but different colors, although there may be some fighting over colors on occasion!

Toys such as play kitchens, dollhouses, lincoln logs, Legos, or train sets have multiples pieces so that sharing these sorts of toys is possible. Let them fight it out or learn how to trade (see below) over small items such as matchbox cars, books, and puzzles, as long as there are enough to go around.

2. Teach Them About Trading and Sharing

While insisting on taking turns works great for adults, children younger than 3 years old don't really understand this concept very well. Furthermore, it can fuel sibling rivalry by putting you in the middle by the mere fact that you are taking from one and giving to another. What they do understand is trading and simplified sharing.

Trading is when the child trades in one toy for another. For example if Child A wants the toy that Child B has, she must give Child B her toy or another one. Sharing can be taught in many ways. For example playing a game of kickball where everyone (mom or dad included) takes a turn at kicking it. Another example would be having a pretend tea party where everyone takes a turn pouring tea and passing goodies around the table.

3. The Art of Distraction

Sometimes distraction or removing the toys is the only method to stop the fighting. In this case, the best way to handle it is to ask each child to give you the toy and move on to a different activity. Take your children outside to play or to another room in the house. For example if they are playing in their bedroom, have them go to the playroom or living room and begin a new activity.

More Toddler Articles


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