Friday, January 6, 2012

The Art of Sharing: A toddler and his toys.


My son is getting ready to turn three shortly and there seems to be a shift in his playtime demeanor. Lately I am hearing things like “it’s mine” and “I need it.”

When playing with little children, such as his brother or cousin, he edges them out of the way of whatever he is playing with. If you aren’t paying close attention it simply looks like he is cuddling with them or getting down on the floor and playing with them on their level. Do not be fooled, this is not what is going on at all! He is nudging them gently away from his train tracks or dinosaurs.

When the baby picks up a train to play with, my toddler will come over and snatch it out of his hands. Even though he doesn’t really want to play with the train and he was not playing with the train at all before his brother took an interest, he NEEDS the train.

My husband and I work really hard to get our toddler to share and play nicely, but this phase that he is currently going through is making it extremely difficult. We tell him in a nice and calm voice, “No, William. Steven was playing with that train. You need to give it back to your brother. When he is done playing with it you may play with it.” Sometimes we simply ask him to pick out another train to share with his brother. This way he is in control of what is being played with but still having to share.

Have I mentioned that he has started real temper tantrums? I am talking about feet stomping -hand fisting - arms flexing - full blown yelling temper tantrums… This phase is not my cup of tea.

Temper tantrums usually ensue after he has been told it is naptime or bedtime. But these little beasts can pop up at any time. When asking William to share the cars or the Mater toy with his brother William had a meltdown. It was a little ridiculous; okay… maybe more than a little ridiculous. There is usually a build up to a temper tantrum. I am usually not caught unaware.

Pre-temper tantrum my child will usually get slightly irritable about unimportant things. He will get frustrated with his toys, especially if they are not working like he wants them to. He will start to get more whiney. Lastly, while playing pretend with his toys his toys will start to get more irritable and upset. They usually all turn into “bad guys”. This is usually right before the big blow up.

I have noticed that when he is tired and when he is hungry he is more likely to lose it and lose it without forewarning. So in order to avoid temper tantrums I make sure my son takes his naps and eats his snacks and meals. Doing this help to avoid unnecessary meltdowns, but unfortunately it does not eliminate them all together.

Sharing and temper tantrums seem to go hand in hand these days. Whenever William is asked to share something with a friend he runs away, throws a temper tantrum, or starts to whine. He tells us that he NEEDS whatever it is he is being asked to share. Although I know full well that this little phase is not one that vanishes overnight, my dream is to wake up tomorrow and have temper tantrums be a thing of the past. Wishful thinking, right?

I think that if I set up more play-dates and group activities for him he will learn from other children… the problem with that is that I don’t always want him to pick things up from other children. Oh double-edged sword – why do you dislike me so. I guess that the only thing to be done is to continue with what we are doing and how we are handling his behavior.

Practice makes perfect and eventually we will get there. We just have to keep practicing how to share.

I mean really… wouldn’t you be mad if someone came up to you and took your car and drove off with it? I understand the frustration. I just wish that it didn’t turn into world war three every time the baby picked up a toy.

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