11 answers

3 Year Old Saying "MINE" All the Time

My preschooler recently began full time at her school and while she is learning many new things, she is also learning bad habits as well from her classmates. One particularly is being possessive about her things, with us parents.

I know it's normal for kids to do that at this age. My question is, how do I teach her about the sharing concept?

For example, whenever she says "That is MY cookie! Do not touch my cookie!" I tell her "In this house, we SHARE. There is no such thing as 'mine' in this house."

Any suggestions?

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks, everyone, for your wonderful advices. They have really opened my eyes and had me realize what I am saying to her is not quite the right thing to say. I now realize we don't share everything, that is so true! I am more careful what I say wit her, and will be a good role model and praise her when she does share. Thanks!

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She's not quite at the age where she has learned that not everything in the world is "hers". She has learned the concept of ownership, but doesn't understand yet that other people get to "own" things as well. This will develop over the next year or so. Meanwhile, redirecting her interest to other things when she is trying to take another child's toy, or attempting to make all toys (or cookies) appear to be equal in their value at the time is one of things you can do. Sometimes she just cannot have the item (such as another child's cookie) and she will have to learn that as well. This is a tough age for that and you can't rush teaching it to her, but you can help her realize that not playing with that particular one is not the end of the world - the other toy is just as much fun!

Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful

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if she won't share, take the cookie or whatever away and remove her from the table. If she can't behave, she can't participate. Teach her now mommy. You can do it. Peers are a strong force so you stay stronger. It only gets worse from here as they grow and develope so hang in there.

1 mom found this helpful

She's not quite at the age where she has learned that not everything in the world is "hers". She has learned the concept of ownership, but doesn't understand yet that other people get to "own" things as well. This will develop over the next year or so. Meanwhile, redirecting her interest to other things when she is trying to take another child's toy, or attempting to make all toys (or cookies) appear to be equal in their value at the time is one of things you can do. Sometimes she just cannot have the item (such as another child's cookie) and she will have to learn that as well. This is a tough age for that and you can't rush teaching it to her, but you can help her realize that not playing with that particular one is not the end of the world - the other toy is just as much fun!

Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Great response from Kristin! Other great ideas too here... I just wanted to add a couple things. There is a difference between sharing, taking turns, and even distribution...while we often use the word "sharing" for it all, kids are bound to get confused by what we really want them to do. In the case of the cookie, it really is HER cookie, right, as it is intended for her to eat herself...not split. Even if splitting the cookie, her PIECE would be "mine" to ingest in all reality. It could be that she is simply sorting this "mine vs. yours" out in her young mind, as is completely developmentally appropriate, as you mentioned. Maybe if she is saying mine in a possessive way, you could matter of factly state that yes you gave her that cookie for her to eat and there is one for everyone. Thank you for the cookie?? Your welcome sweetheart. Something like that to emphasize that each have their own so no need to be possessive, and to promote gratitude recognition. Commentating like this helps to develop a heart of gratitude as your child grows, recognizing things given to her, as opposed to the focus being on a negative of feeling like things are always taken from her in the name of "sharing" when she developmentally genuinely thinks they are HERS.
As far as "sharing" toys. Some toys can be shared (played with simultaneously) while others really can't. With the toys they can't "share", they certainly can "take turns". In our house (I have 3 and 4 year old sons, as well as do home day care), the kids all know the rule that "we are not to grab toys from the hands of another", but rather wait our turn. Sometimes it's harder than other times (of course when there are multiple preschoolers working with toys in the same room), but overall it works great, as there is a secure feeling on both ends. The child with the toy knows that things are not to be snatched from them, so they are more willing to play comfortably and then move on, while the child wanting the toy knows that they will have a turn come time and then the toy will not be snatched from them without warning either. To avoid nagging one another for a turn, we most often wait for the friend to be done with a toy while playing with whatever else we choose that is available at the time, unless it's a hot item or structured play when we take turns for a given amount of time, so they know when it's time to pass the toy on to another, so they have that fair warning and a sense of equality.
I've also used the natural consequences/reasoning in terms of...that's okay if you don't want to share that, but then we won't share _______ with you (using something she really likes that's comparable) or actually it is mine that I shared with you(if it is), isn't that so nice when people share with you, everybody likes when we share nice things with them.
So just a few thoughts, ideas for what it's worth. Hope it helps...
Best wishes! :)

1 mom found this helpful

In our house the kids had to learn to share most things except a very few items that were special to them. The special things did not need to be shared. So when you have the sharing talk you might consider making an exception for one or two special toys. (E.g. that's Sally's special bear that Grandma gave her...) That way your daughter will know that she will have a few things that are hers alone. One thing that drives kids crazy is injustice so she may feel that she is sharing at school but others are not. That may have turned her off to the whole concept. Assure her that at home everyone will respect each other, not grab for others' things etc. Now is the time for the talk about kids who misbehave - how to handle that situation - the fact that not all kids are taught right from wrong and not all kids have loving parents.

Another teaching moment: if she puts up a fuss about sharing the cookies, pick something and tell her you won't share with her (calmly!). Let her see the ripple effect of noncooperation!

Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

That's a toughie you'll wind up facing most of your child's life. Peer pressure. Have you tried old fashioned board games? where you NEED to share and take turns to play? Sharing a single bowl of popcorn while watching a Christmas special, or good video together..or maybe make A large sandwich ( sub type) to show her Shareing as you share ( by dividing )the sandwich. There is a great ( old) children's book/ story about shareing.. ever hear of "Stone Soup" ? These are just suggestions.. I am older now..and will face these issues again with my grandchildren .. but of all the memories in my life.. the ones that stick are the ones where sharing took place..not the ones where there were fights over "stuff". With 6 siblings..there were a LOT of those times..but the sharing times are what make life worth living. Make them special for your family.
I agree there are times..like at school..where SOME things are better NOT shared. Your daughter will need to learn personal boundries. You don't want your daughter SHARING EVERYTHING ( your best dress, make up,precious possesions, possible meds etc.) Somethings are meant for mommies, some for daddies..( his tools, razors, wallet..etc.)and some for little girls.. ( clothes..special toys, toothbrushes, hair brushes ) Maybe teach her by having her give another child a toy she feels would make the other child happy..without it being her favorite.
An old story/ memory that MAY help you..
My Mom came up with the concept of " GRANDMA'S TOYS" She kept a big barrel of toys labled "Grandma's Toys" She showed the toys to the children..and told them as long as they played nicely with the toys.. she would share. If they fought, or mistreated the toys.. she would take them away and not let them play with "her" toys. It worked very well. The toys didn't get taken away very often..and the grandkids all learned to share. ( there were 8 or more at most family gatherings, 13 in all) My mother is gone now.. but her ideas and love shine on.
Hope these things help.. but hang in there "Mom"..

Children learn by observation. Same with having good manners. Observing my son's 10 & 11 year old friends in my home with poor manners is challenging. I really try hard to compliment the one who is polite first, then the rest follow suit. The sharing concept can be a hard one to teach.

And...I believe children should have their own stuff - not everything is common property in a household, otherwise, your child can touch EVERYTHING! I have things that I don't want MY children to touch (they wouldn't dare go in my purse without asking!) So, finding the common balance, seeing you share, saying "thank you" and making a big deal of the moments that she shares, at this age, can go far. "Sharing your money" by teaching her to give money to the Salvation Army's red bucket and telling her "it's good that we share our money to the poor"...these are all life lessons. The Berenstein Bears has a great series of books that teach all kinds of morals like that and they are fun to read - books on "Sharing", "Lying", "What happens when you break rules", "Having Good Manners" and 'Curbing Bossiness" are ways that you can get your point across too, through this series. Good Luck.

I think we understand the definition of share but kids don't. Yes they hear the word 'share' all the time but I don't believe they get it it is just a word to them. I've always said that we allow others to play with our things because they are our friends and they don't have their own toys when they come over. or i'll say i'm putting the timer on first susie gets it's for five minutes then it will be johnny's turn for five minutes with the times are we go back and forth. Then after they are done with this pattern i go to them and praise them on a job well done this is sharing you did a great job sharing. I have a three year old, who has three older siblings and she does get this concept very well. she will even say it time to put on the timer. Of course, she does not always follow the sharing rule but kids will be kids and we work through it. Find ways to teach and explain in detail what the sharing concept means. Just saying you need to share is falling on deaf ears they have no clue what that actually intails. They may know a little but to get them to start doing it you need to drive home the concept not just telling them they need to share.

You can't teach authentic generosity and sharing by forcing someone to share. Children absorb this naturally when you model those qualities in your words and actions and allow them to move through their "selfishness" phase without struggle and punishment. Let her cling to her "stuff" on her terms, and paradoxically she will then feel secure to begin sharing from an internally motivated place. As you honor your child's gradual developmental understanding of possession and trust her desire to follow your model, she will eventually learn to share from an authentic place.

Another thing to consider is the fact that the way adults often make children share in no way resembles the way adults share in real life. We share some things and not others and we each set our own parameters and boundaries for what and how much we choose to share. Children should be given the same choice and our job should be to facilitate them by pointing out factors they might consider as they decide and to help them negotiate their terms (eg, "Jane really likes that toy. Can she play with it when you're done? How much longer before she can have it- 1 or 2 more minutes? You're still not ready to let it go? Ok, Jane, let's go get this toy, maybe Sally will be ready to share in a little bit, etc...)

I've seen how this works from experience- I never "make" my kids share and they are extremely generous and great at negotiating sharing when they play with each other and other kids.

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