Yours, Mine, and Ours

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Every kid has to learn to share, but when you’re a multiple, the sharing begins long before you’re even born. My own experience was quite different. I grew up an only child, and while I was required to share toys and materials at daycare and school, when I went home and walked into my room, everything was mine. But that isn’t the case for my kids. At 20 months old, my kids have very few things that are their own personal belongings. We have tons of books and more than enough toys, and the expectation is that they will share them.

However, in the last month or so, both my son (Buba) and my daughter (Tiny) have started to develop preferences for certain items. They have favorite books, favorite toys, and favorite stuffed animals. And each child considers these favorites as belonging to him or her. Heaven help us if Buba wants to play with the stuffed monkey that Tiny thinks belongs to her. And we’re sure to hear about it if Tiny dares to push around the choo-choo that Buba likes best.

I try explaining in the simplest ways that we share toys and take turns, and sometimes that’s enough to hold one of them off for a few minutes. But more often then not, the word share precedes a lot of screaming and crying. And what blows me away is the way it all goes down. For example, Tiny is in the kitchen quietly reading books to the stuffed monkey while Bubba is in the living room playing with the wire and bead toy. Then Buba decides to grab the teapot and come to the kitchen to play. Tiny will shriek and shout, “share! share!” (Translation= That’s mine give it to me!) When I tell tiny that it’s Buba’s turn, she goes into a major meltdown as though I’ve just given away the thing that matters most to her. And we go through situations like these several times a day.

So what I’m wondering is this: Given that they have to share so much and will have to share so much for at least the next 17 years would it help matters if they each had a few items that we enforced as being their own personal belongings? Or at this young age, would that only make things worse?

How does it work at your house? Do your kids possess specific toys of their own? And how do you help your kids learn what sharing and turn taking are all about?

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12 thoughts on “Yours, Mine, and Ours”

  1. Oh please Twin Parents help us out on this one! We’re in exactly the same boat but with 12 month twins and a 2.5 year old toddler. It can be complete mayhem in my house.
    .-= jane´s last blog .. =-.

  2. To some extent, there’s only so much you can do. We’ve got identical copies of some things, and they still fight over the same one.

    Honestly, for as much as I try to encourage sharing and taking turns, there are a handful of things that have very specific owners. Blankets, certainly. A small handful of dolls and toys, too, that each has a particular attachment to. Those are the ones that I do not insist that they share. If Daniel starts to use Rebecca’s Backyardigan’s dolls and she gets upset, I do insist that he give them to her. I figure, they have to share everything, all the time. If there’s a couple of things that they particularly love, then those can be a little protected.

  3. For the most part we have to share, but there are certain items that belong to each girl. Their blankies are off limits to anyone else. Around age 2, two of my daughters received stuffed animals at separate doctor’s appointments. Those became “their” animals. If they want to allow their sisters to play with them, fine… if not, fine. So then I let the other two “claim” a stuffed animal, too. As for the other toys, I try to figure out who was playing with the day’s coveted toy first and then give her a chance to share (“When you’re done with that it would be really nice to let your sister play with it, too”) When all else fails, set the oven timer. I tried it starting around 1 1/2 or 2 years old… set the timer for 5 minutes and then it’s time to hand over the toy. It took a few tries to get it, but now, if they’re arguing over a toy they’ll actually ask me to set the timer.

  4. We have boought very few toys for the twins, so most of what they play with was originally bought for our 3yo. “MINE” is yelled from time to time, and the twins steal each other’s toys all the time. We explain sharing and that it’s not nice to take things away from other people. ODS is learning, I think.

    However, I do feel it is important to let each child have something of their own. My sister (2Yrs older) and I shared everything until she got married. But there were certain things we knew were special to the other one, and so those were not shared. If I am going to see all of my children as individuals, they also should have their own special belongings.
    .-= Melanie´s last blog ..Snark, Snark, Snark =-.

  5. My 3 yo definitely has stuff that are HIS and he ain’t sharing it and I don’t make him. I mean, the poor kid lost most of all of HIS stuff when the twins invaded HIS house and HIS space.

    The twins (19 months) play mostly with the older one’s old toys. If he gets a hankering for something the twins are playing with, I make him wait until the twins are done with it and then he can play with it. Their attention span is all of 12 minutes or so. He can wait.

    Twins have to share with each other too and take turns but as to the “day’s coveted toy” (ha, Quadmama), I let them have that if it seems like it has been theirs all day and they don’t have to share that.

    Then, I deep breathe through the crying and screaming that occurs thereafter.
    .-= Tina´s last blog ..A Breeding Ground for Subdural Hematomas =-.

  6. We have some items that are exact duplicates, some items that are each child’s alone, never to be shared. These are usually stuffed animals, blankets, lovies, their fisher price cameras, aquadoodle mats designed for one, etc.

    They do share all of the the large toys and the accessories that go with them (kitchen and dishes, dollhouse and dolls, etc.) as well as books, puzzles, blocks, board games, etc.

    The most important thing for us is to never allow the second child to take something from the first under the guise of “sharing.” If someone is already playing with it, then you have to wait your turn. Sometimes this means waiting until the first one is done. Other times it means setting a timer so the first one knows when her turn is over. If the set is large enough for 2 to play together, they I insist that they both play together, but use different parts. No one every has to hand over the specific item they are already using.
    .-= Rhonda´s last blog ..Cooking with Dad =-.

  7. This post couldn’t have come at a better time, though, I’m sure that’s the case for most ages until 25, right? 😉 We make our girls share everything except their beloved Lamb and Bunny, which is only theirs. They are 16 months now, so I’m sure once they get older they will have a selection of toys that may become only theirs. We’re not totally sure how that will work yet. We use the term “taking turns” rather than “sharing”. It seems to work better. We also “trade” for other stuff to make taking turns easier on the one who has to give up whatever they are playing with. Most of the time we make the one who wants the toy to wait. If all hell breaks loose and both have tantrums the toy “takes a break” or “time out” and we move onto something else after an explanation of why the toy needs a break/we need a break from the toy. Every situation seems to be different and is handled differently. We try to focus on the attitude of their hearts rather than whose turn it is.

  8. We take a hands-off approach. I don’t get involved unless something serious starts to happen. Then I start with “Lets see if we can find a way to play together with that toy” and I try to come up with a creative way to use the toy together.

    We originally taught our oldest to find some other toy that the twins would like better and try to swap … that works now with all three of them.

    We insist that if they want a toy they have to ask politely if they can have it now … I sometimes hear one of them say, “Since you asked politely you can have it” … that always cracks me up.

    But then there are times(days) when nothing works and toys and kids both need time outs :)

  9. When one wants to play with something that other currently has in their possession we tell her to count to 10 and then it will be X’s turn. First, they have to count too, and they don’t really know how to count so it takes quite a long time for them to count to 10. This lets the original owner get used to the idea of letting the other twin have their turn, and lets the receiver do something while they wait. Soon enough, they start counting on their own, and the giver starts giving on their own. Now that my kids are 2 there are 3 scenarios that play out: 1. the giver immediately gives it to the other. 2. The receiver starts counting and then gets distracted by something else. 3. The giver doesn’t want to give up the toy. If case 3, a offer to trade something for the toy is made which works pretty well, I distract both of them with a story, and if nothing works an explanation that the giver doesn’t always have to give up the toy and that reciever can play with something else or do something with me.

  10. I started with the swap thing with my 3 yr old when he wanted a toy one of the twins had. At first (until about 16 months) it worked great b/c they could care less what toy they had. Now they’ve figured it out and throw a fit. It totally cracked me up the first time I saw one of the twins try to “swap” a toy to get something she wanted. I never taught her, she just picked it up from her big brother.

  11. My twins turn 3 next month. In addition to using the timer (which usually diffuses any fighting), in extreme cases, I will take the toy away if they can’t get it together. Usually the threat of this is enough to get them to figure out some solution on their own without screaming.

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