21 answers

Toy Dielma

does anyone have experience with this particular toy dilema.
i have a 2 year old daughter and a 4 year old daughter. my 4 yearold had lots of toys before her sister came and found herself sharing them. so not up till a year ago did we actually start buying a toy for them each. equality and all. but there all stored in the same place. so they play with eachothers toys. they have difficulty playing with the same toy no matter how large it is. such as a tea set or a multi piece set vacume caddy. im not sure if i should say "we boguth that for your sister, she wants to play with it now, so give it up" even though theyre stored in the same place, and there for up for grabs? should i start dividing up there toys, and storing them seperately? should they have to share a tea set if they want to play with the whole thing by themselves? help.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Dear M.,
Yes I truly believe dividing the toys up maybe into to boxes
but in the same room then when they want to play with the other ones toy they can learn to ask, and share. But they truly need to learn to respect others toys, places, and then be better at when they go to school.


usually tea party is a group play time. if the toys are age approved for the two year old also I would enforce sharing. Although they should each have a few toys that are truly there own. Like a doll or teddy. Sharing is always best.

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I just explain to my children that in our home we share and that toys are for everyone . We do not take toys away from anyone if they were playing with it first and since they are 1 and 3 it is a constant fight but I will not give up on teaching them to share. They are just following human nature to want what someone eles has not neccessarily that it is the toy they want!

1 mom found this helpful

First of all, my kids have too many toys anyway. They are two years apart and both of their birthdays are only two months from Christmas....UGH. I too get all the "BUT IT'S MY TOY". At times I just say okay, if she can't play with your toys, you can't play with ANY of hers. Then he shares.
The thing that works best is TOY ROTATION!!
Quick, go grab a big trash bag!!! Pack up a bunch of toys that they are fighting over (preferably at nap time) and put them in the bag. Yes, they will wonder where the toys went, just say well, their your toys, don't you remember where you put them?? (seriously, they hate to look for toys if you tell them it includes cleaning the play room). Then, store the toys in the garage for a few months. Then, when you are ready to bring them back in, grab another trashbag and bag up the other toys and put down the "new toys" from the storage!! I rotate the toys pretty regularly (3-6 months) but it is also a HUGE money saver as they don't get tired of their toys so often.
Save your Christmas money for socks and underwear!!

1 mom found this helpful

I have 1 and 3 year old children. They are already having toy issues from time to time. We have sacred toys in their own rooms that we don't allow the other child to play with without permission, and then we have community toys in the playroom that are fair game for anyone to play with. Seems to help at our house. It also gives them a sense of control, which helps. If they start getting upset about the sacred toys, I just remind them of their own toys in their room and that seems to help most of the time

1 mom found this helpful

We have a "play room" that contians the toys that we have declared are communal . My older daughter and son also have special toys that they keep in thier rooms that belong to them individually. This works out well because some times they like to play together and some times they need a little alone time. My kiddos are 6, 4 and 1.5. They get along pretty well most of the time, but everyone has trouble sharing once in a while.

Dear M.,
Yes I truly believe dividing the toys up maybe into to boxes
but in the same room then when they want to play with the other ones toy they can learn to ask, and share. But they truly need to learn to respect others toys, places, and then be better at when they go to school.


usually tea party is a group play time. if the toys are age approved for the two year old also I would enforce sharing. Although they should each have a few toys that are truly there own. Like a doll or teddy. Sharing is always best.

I have 2 1/2 y/o and 4 y/o boys that share a room. They share all toys. Some things we have 2 of but mostly, they have to share and take turns. We don't have much of a problem. They mostly play with their dulpos and they worked together to decide which colors belong to each of them.

When we do have problems, the toy is taken away for a while. Most of the time, I can just talk with them, ask them what is going on and if they can come up with a solution. I add in little hints if they need help. Usually a little "He looks upset, would you like to share the toy so everyone can play?" works. They need a little guidance to learn sharing, taking turns, etc. I've know some moms that use timers for turns so that may work for you.

I believe in first come first served. If one pulls out a toy and doesn't want to play with the other, the other gets redirected to something else until his turn if he wants it. Even though they share a room and are their best playmates, they want alone time once in a while just like everyone else. I try to get them set up on different things when it's been one of those days where they want to rip each other's heads off.

Sorry rambling. In short: Work on sharing and taking turns. Mark any specials toys that just belong to one girl. Let them play alone if they want to.

hi ''
no they need tolearn to share ,,if they take from the others hand then itstime out my granddaughters are 2 yrs apart they learned to figure it out so will yours you have to share

good luck L.

Sharing can be a hard concept to grasp for little ones, especially if there is some sibling rivalry going on. I suggest you try saying "take turns" with a toy and set a timer if you need to. If a toy has many pieces, the 4 year old needs to begin to understand that it is possible to share some pieces and play cooperatively - it will help in pre-school and kindergarten when she will be expected to do so. Good luck!

Whoever has it first should get to play with it no matter whose it is, especially if they are stored together. The other should ask, "when you are done with it, I would like to play with it, please." I personally believe that most toys should be shared. There are exceptions. When there is a special toy, and the younger will mess it up, etc. Then, that toy should be put up where they can't get it. That allows some control for the one it belongs to. But, all the other stuff needs to be shared. I don't want my kids to be possessive of their stuff so that they can't share most of their stuff. No matter who I bought it for, if it's not "special" and easily broken, then anyone can play with it. If they have separate rooms, then of course, the other has to ask before they go in the room and get a toy. That's respect of privacy, etc. But, if the toys are together and in sight all the time, then anyone can play with it.

OK here's my thought on the idea. We live in a VERY selfish society today.
Look at the 1950's, when marriages lasted forever. Families had to share everything, a phone line, a car, magazines, toothpaste and on occasion when a child might get one toy for a birthday or Christmas.
Today, there are divorces like wildfire, and couples and families share very little. Every one has their own phone, sometimes two, emails, cars, toothpaste, you name it every one has their own anything.
We buy tons of toys for our kids and they very seldom respect anything they have.
In my house my kids are allowed ONE special item and do not have to share it. Everything else is up for grabs. If it is left out, I give it away, if they mistreat it I give it away. If they fight over it I give it away.
Don't get me wrong...I have spoiled my kids and bought them everything under the sun. Until I saw how selfish they were becoming. As a family we all volunteer together for needy charities, so they can see how lucky they are.
And when peer pressure starts coming to the picture, I remind them that we are special because we care about each other and do not have to have everything every one else has to feel special.

I agree that children should be allowed to have some special toys that they don't have to share. Those could be left in a room.

I think that whoever had it first should get to play with it. My sisters' girls are very bad about taking from my son, and he's been taught not to hit them (which is what they do to him). Now when he takes from his little sister, I point out how he feels when cousins take from him. It's helped!

I DON'T think sharing means that one person has to give up a toy for another person. I think there are many levels of sharing (you get to play with something similar to mine, I play with it first then give it to you, we play together) but just having to "give it up" is NOT sharing in my opinion.

2 and 4 are close in age, but still very far apart developmentally. The 4 year old is learning how to play with others, while the 2 year old is mostly capable of parallel play (playing alongside another but not truly playing with them) so the idea of sharing is difficult. Model it for them by playing with them. Show them (by being in their positions) what possible ways they can share.

Some toys can be personal, and I think that's ok, but most should probably be communal. It's not fair to not allow them SOME things that are their own, especially if they have their own rooms where things can be stored. We do the "if it's special and you don't want to share it, then don't bring it around others" idea (mostly with cousins, but I tell my son that too). If it's something soooo special (like a lovey) that they don't to share, fine, but don't bring it out when others are around.

Model the sharing/playing together, but I think it's totally normal if they DON'T want to play together. I read another posters idea about a timer. Perhaps that would help your little ones too.

Hi Moriaha. I too am a mother of 2. I have a four year old and a 2 year old. My four your daughter had many toys before my son arrived too. The rule in our house is, whoever had the toy first gets to play with it. There is an exception, brother is not allowed to play with her special toys like a fragile tea set. This rule generally works very well. It is best not to get into the yours and mine. This would give them unneeded ideas about not sharing. Don't get me wrong you can set boundaries like the things that are on sister's bed belong to her, please do not touch or you must ask sister before your touch these items. I hope this helps. Good Luck.

Two sets of my kids are 20 mos and another 2 are 15 mos apart. They found theirselves in the same boat as yours as far as sharing goes. I think that sharing is a good thing. I would just leave it as it is and let them learn to share at a young age. The 2 of mine that are 20 mos apart are now 23 and 25. They still share well to this day. The other 2 that are 15 mos apart are 1 and 2. They are still learning. After seeing the way the forst 2 have done, I'll redo it again. I persoanally think that by buying "their own" toys, you will raise selfish kids. It does get easier as they get older. Goodluck in whatever you choose.

You got many good responses but here is what we do in our house...all the kids toys use to be stored in the playroom. Now my son has his 'boy' toys in his room and my daughter has her 'girl' toys in her room. The playroom is reserved for toys that have to be shared (blocks, trains, legs etc.) Before we did this we had arguments ALL the time about who had it first and who it belongs to. Now they play in the playroom together without any problems. They also invite the other to come to thier room and play with the toys in there. We have not solved all the problems, but this has worked best for us. They get their own special toys in their room and then have 'community' toys in the playroom.

Hello, M. . . .
Sharing is a hard thing to teach. I have, at times, made sure that two of my kids had the same thing . . my youngest 2 are 22 months apart. But - - you're not teaching anything by removing the conflict and buying 2 things, and as you said, in some cases, you can't buy 2 of them.

I think it is important in sharing to teach a child about the feelings of the other. I have said to one of my boys, "See how happy he is? You have made him so happy by sharing! Why don't you build me a castle with blocks for 10 minutes while he plays with the helicopter, and then you can trade?" It is so valuable to teach children a giving spirit, and how much joy there is in helping someone else to smile and be happy.
NOTHING works ALL THE TIME. You just keep teaching the same thing over and over. Exhausting, right? It's parenting. My mom always says, (quoting a Bible passage) "Line upon line, precept upon precept . . ."

Blessings to you . . . good luck.

If a toy is a special item, like a favorite lovey, I don't think they should have to share it, but if they're regular toys that both have access to I think they should share and be encouraged to take turns if they both want exclusive use of the same toy at the same time. I had to set a timer when my boys were little because each insisted on having the same toy even though there were zillon other things to play with. If they fought over it we'd give 10 minutes to one, then to the other and if they kept fighting over something I would put it away in a closet for a few weeks and tell them they'd have to learn to share if they wanted to see it again! Good luck!

Like others said, it's ok for a child to have one or two special toys they don't have to share. In our home they don't have to share their pillow or blanket.

But everything else should be shared. I DO NOT have more then one of a particular toy, but I do have variations of it. For instance, a box of cars- they can play cars and everyone gets a car but no two are just alike so they have to learn to share the favorites. When we have pretend play (tea parties, costumes, ect) they have to share but I am there during the play to mediate.

I do time play with things that are being fought over. If someone wants it then I say that child A gets it for X number of minutes longer and then child B takes a turn for X number of minutes. At first they will still argue until they learn that they really do get to play with it in a little while and then they will take turns more readily.

All our toys are semi age appropriate for the youngest two children. I don't want to risk the youngers choking on things. But it seems to work just fine for us, your children will learn. My sister and I were forced to share a room and toys but my sister kept fighting so my mom separated us. My sister continued on the selfish path and when a homeless 3 YO moved in with us rather then my sister and I moving in with each other (we were 11 and 13) I had to share a room with him. I was fine to do so, but I felt that he would benefit from his own little boy room, rather then having to be in a teen girls' room. But my sister wouldn't share a room with me and so I stayed with him.

Don't raise materialistic selfish children- it will affect them into adulthood. My sister later decided to only have one child so that her child could have all that she could possibly be given and never have to share with anyone! Apparently my sister always resented me because although we didn't share objects, we shared resources! She would have had more if only I hadn't been born. Ironically I was the older sister.

S., homeschooling mom to four girls ages 5,4,3,1 1/2 and pregnant with #5!

I have two boys, one just turned four and the younger is 2.5. They share a room and their toys are in their room and in the living room. They each have thier own special toys that they have to ask the other's permission or must hand over if the other wants it. And of course they each like to use that as an occassional power play, but I think the benefits out weigh the occassional tiff. The rest of the toys are up for grabs. If one wants to play with what the other has then they must wait their turn. Sometimes we'll put a timer on, sometimes just realizing they can't always get their way they back off and play with something else. If the squabble gets too heated the toy goes into time out. If it's something like a tea set or the kitchen with lots of dishes then we all play together and then I kinda back out and leave them to play on their own. We also have some toys that are exactly the same and those we have their initial on. That way if they leave their's in the garage they can't just take the other's toy.

I think it's important to have special things it helps teach them to be proud of what they have, to take care of it and provides a starting point to understand others, especially when it comes to playing with others outside of the home. I have my special things and treasures and now all I have to do is remind them that they are treasures and I would rather they didn't take it and they put it back. There's nothing wrong with setting boundaries. You just have to decide what boundaries work for your family and be consistent with it.

Good luck


I have a 3 and 4 yr old and let me tell you we have gone through many toy dilemas! They share a room and all their toys are stored together. We do not bother explaining to them who got what toy for what birthday and etc... It's all free play. So, when one of the boys wants to play with a toy the other one is playing with we have a little cooking timer we set for 10 minutes and when the bell goes off they know its time to give the toy to the other kid. Then, we set it again to let the other kid have it back. Our kids now come to us and say set the timer mama, no more screaming he took my toy! It took a while to get them in the routine and they didn't understand that they were going to get their turn again, but after repeatedly doing it they understand. Good Luck!

Hi M.. What you are describing is normal behavior. I am sure you already know that. Children at this age (and several up amd down from here heheh) can play okay side by side but not together and they are not good at sharing. Sharing is a learned trait so it (like potty training) is difficult to train. I am a breeder of dogs and even among my dogs when I have a litter you have no sharing going on. They are trying to decide who is alpha. I am not trying to put them in the same category, but children (like he rest of us) are basically animalistic in their behaviors until we train them. This subject of sharing is not an easy one. I might suggest a couple things however.

1. Mark the toys in front of the children. Especially the older one needs to see that you are putting his/her name on her toys. Make a big deal of separating the toys in front of the kids.

2. Put the toys in separate places if you have the space and show each child where their toys are. Do this while they are both watching and tell them clearly where "their toys" are. Then enforce the 'her toys and your toys' rules. This will cut down on the need to establish top dog so to speak.

The reasoning for all this is mostly for the older child right now but when it gets enforced enough in front of the little one the older one will gently (and sometimes not so gently) divide the toys herself. The older child needs to feel secure in her place as "first" and this also establishes that each child is special in their own way and that each member has a place in the family and nobod is going anywhere. It will be easier for the oldest to share if the oldest feels secure. Hope that helps.

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