MINE – Addressing Sharing with Toddlers

Welp.  We had a good run.  We had a run with no “MINE” (until they could speak out loud) and no real problems with sharing.  The occasional tussle or smack to the head and a few bites.  Other than that, they’ve been content to share their stuff.  To share their food (well, mostly). To share their people.  To share their messes with the world.

But then it happened.  The inevitable with toddlers happened.

We heard it maybe 2 weeks ago.  It was a weekend because both my husband and I were home.  It sounded like it.  But we both said, “nah”, dismissing it as if it were just a fluke thing never to be heard again.


We have heard it several times since then and our Nanny has certainly heard it so we aren’t making this up.  It’s real.  It’s time to flex those parenting skills that are non-existent until you have to use them.  You don’t know what you are capable of or what you will do until you are in the situation.  And we learn as we go along.

We don’t really have any designation on anything as to indicate it’s his or hers or belongs to one or the other besides clothes.  The toys are all just their toys.  His and hers.

It’s been almost a scientific experiment to watch who plays with what with no leading or prompting.  Having boy/girl twins who are exactly the same age and growing up in exactly the same environment having exactly the same experience is fascinating.

There are no colors deciding which toy belongs to which kid and yet the strangest thing has been how they just gravitate toward more stereotypically gender-specific items anyway.  Not entirely by any stretch, but in some ways.  He’s way more interested in cars than she is. She’s way more interested in being neat and clean and even already likes fashion.

We don’t encourage or discourage any of it.  We just watch it unfold.  As our heads explode.

But now, “MINE”  has entered the room.

It’s here.  It’s part of the picture.  It’s not going away anytime soon.  So we must address it.

They really enjoy being together without any prompting and most times are content with sharing.  They miss each other when they are just in another room for crying out loud.  While I don’t agree that they need to share everything every single time, I do want to teach taking turns, respecting each other, and because they are together so often, they must learn to share – with each other and perhaps more importantly – with other kids.  It starts at home, right?

As a hippy dippy trippy citizen of the planet who believes that not much is truly MINE in this world, it is more collectively OURS and not even ours really, but on loan for a brief period, I shudder at this word.  At this concept. HOWEVER.  They are toddlers.  They are just figuring out what this world is all about and just learning to exert their power.  I get it.

Now there is a time and place for their own things.  Their own space.  Their own identities.  I get all that.  But one thing at a time.  For right now, we are simply addressing the elephant in the room.  “MINE”.

What do we do when it rears it’s ugly head?  We calmly talk about it.  “Your sister was playing with that.  You can play with another toy until she’s done.”  Or, “Oh look at this book!  Let’s read this book.”  Distraction is still a very useful tool in dealing with not quite 2 year olds.  It usually works out just fine.  We have the benefit of teaching these tools at home with each other along with being out with other kids and practicing with them as well.

Calmly and quietly talking things through seems to be working right now.  Not always, but usually when we lower our voices, it gets their attention.  They really care about each other, so saying something like, “That makes Bubby sad when you take that away from him before he’s done with it” starts to make an impact.  Maybe not right away, but you have to start somewhere.  Compassion.  Teaching them to see that their actions have consequences with others is important.

Sharing of people is trickier business.  Especially when you are outnumbered.  They both want you and some moments they want you to themselves, understandably.  So you do the best you can.  One kid at a time.  To give them what they want and need.

It’s a mind-blowing show every single day around here.  We just watch and learn.  Same as they do.  Only they look to us for how this all works, and they need to know we are there to help.  To guide.  To teach them right from wrong.  To make good choices.  To mold them into compassionate courageous little citizens of the planet.

One “MINE” at a time.

I continually hope we are up to the task.  It may be loud (hi neighbors who hear their screaming when windows are open! HEY hi!) and it may not be pretty (you only get 2 cookies.  WAHHHH!), but so far so good.  We are stumbling through and most of the time we are none the worse for wear.

It’s all part of it.  The learning and the growing and developing into confident little humans.  As always, I’m just honored to be a part of it.  And you know what?  It’s all MINE.


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