These Toddlers Are NOT Sharing

Do a pair of one-year-olds squabbling over plastic hair rollers sound like fun to you? My guess is an unqualified ‘no’, but infants and toddlers define fun, play and learning quite differently than their elders. They approach social situations, even those that turn into minor conflicts, with curiosity and openness.

Observing infant and toddler interactions over the years, I’ve learned that babies have volumes to teach us about getting along with others, if we can just stay out of their way and let them.

Please watch the struggle in this video without any preconceived notions about play, manners, sharing, who-had-it-first. I think you’ll see that toddlers are not only capable problem solvers, they are ingenious, tenacious, accepting and forgiving.

Notes about interventions in this video:

1. Beginning around this age, I gently try to encourage the children to use language (like “no”) with each other, so they will be less inclined to hit or push (or allow themselves to be hit or pushed).

2. In RIE parent-infant guidance classes, we don’t believe in using a blaming tone when there is conflict, so that children don’t identify themselves as victims or aggressors. Instead, we ‘sportscast’ the situation non-judgmentally and matter-of-factly. Infants and toddlers are just learning and experimenting, and we want to give them the confidence to continue to do so.

3. Wish I would have said something to the little girl when she looked at me, something like, “You were both holding the roller and now he has it.” Or, “Yes, I saw what happened.” Or maybe, “Yes, I’m making a movie.” Honestly, I think I was afraid of interrupting something I was excited to share with you all, but she looked like she was asking for a response. I learn a lot watching these videos!

Educational experiences like this one are possible when we:

Provide a safe play space with communal toys (rather than personal ones) and allow children to interact with a small group of others of a similar age.

Fulfill basic needs. Obviously, toddlers who are hungry, thirsty, tired or otherwise uncomfortable won’t have the same interest in, or ability to face, social challenges.

Observe attentively and quietly. Children will play and interact when parents are talking, but it’s less likely and probably won’t go as smoothly. Babies are sensitive to the noise level, think more clearly and feel safer with each other when they have our quiet attention.

Physically intervene only when children might hurt each other and when doing so model gentleness. Our actions speak louder than our words.

State the conflict for the children non-judgmentally with an even-tone to help them understand what is happening and let them know you understand and are paying attention.

Provide an atmosphere of trust — believe the children capable of handling their squabbles. In my experience (and as demonstrated in the video), the children that “take” the most are invariably the ones who “give” the most. Children this age don’t understand the concepts of “sharing” or “ownership”, and when we try to teach them those things, we tend to discourage play and learning. Our interruptions put the brakes on valuable social exchanges and leave toddlers with the message that they’re incapable of interacting with their peers.

In these first couple of years, babies are innocently looking for a way to engage, just trying to figure out how to play together. There are going to be plenty of struggles, clumsy exchanges and blunders along the way.  But our babies won’t be inclined to judge the situation or each other, they’ll just be glad to be there.

Following the RIE approach, we start with the least amount of help and intervention and then slowly increase it.  We do expect and trust that even infants eventually learn most by working out conflicts all by themselves.  If every time adults jump in and bring in their version of what is right, the children learn either to depend on them or to defy them. The more we trust they can solve, the more they do learn to solve. –Magda Gerber, Dear Parent: Caring For Infants With Respect

I share more about this respectful approach in

Elevating Child Care: A Guide to Respectful Parenting



Please share your comments and questions. I read them all and respond to as many as time will allow.

  1. Janet – So Wonderful I Need To Watch It Again 🙂 Thank you for the words of wisdom in your post that uplift the intention, good will and social function of very young children. Wonderful.

  2. Great video, Janet! What a wonderful look at infant problem solving and development of social skills! Thanks for sharing!

  3. this is great… thanks for posting it!

    even though these concepts resonate so deeply with me, i still find sharing-related stuff so hard sometimes. it makes perfect sense when i read it but it can be difficult when toddler feelings escalate quickly to feel like i’m handling it correctly!

    1. Thanks, Sara! I know what you mean about finding it difficult when the toddler’s feelings escalate. Each situation is unique and there are judgment calls. When there are strong feelings that continue or escalate and the children don’t seem able to resolve the situation themselves, I do more to help. Sometimes there is another identical or similar toy to offer, though often the children have no interest in it (which proves that their real intention is to engage and learn with the other child!).

      Unfortunately, we, without meaning to, tend to “load” these situations with our anxiety, anger, etc. Our children are so extremely sensitive that they pick up on it. Then they almost feel as if they have to get upset. As challenging as it can be, it really helps if the adults can stay calm.

  4. Thank you for sharing, Janet! 🙂 Honestly, it was a gift to be able to witness the communication that was going on between these two young children. Too often, I see adults stepping in, imposing their ideas- “We share with our friends.” “He had it first, give it back to him.” I’ll count to five while you have a turn, and then it will be your friend’s turn.” (Can you tell I was at the park recently?) This well-meaning intervention on the part of adults just stops the interaction,and the whole conversation, and learning process that’s going on between the children.I understand why they do it, I’d just like to show them there can be another way. How great to have this bit of video to share with people who may be skeptical, so that they might really see what’s possible. I wonder if you’ve ever considered creating a new video- “See How They (Don’t) Share.” What do you think?

    1. “See How They (Don’t) Share” is a brilliant idea, Lisa! 🙂 What they do is so much better and more interesting, in my humble opinion.

  5. I like to say that by five-years-old humans have been scientists for 43,800 hours. This video makes me want to say anthropologists.

  6. Courtney Peters says:

    I love this video! I have 2 year old twins and have been and continue to be amazed at their interactions. I have never forced them to share and have been astounded at the outcome of some of what seemed to be at first to be “arguments” when I just stepped back and observed. Of course there were / are times when I have to intervene b/c they are in the biting phase. They are like little scientists. My son in particular has an amazing attention span. I love watching them play and sometimes I am afraid to move and make a noise that will interrupt their intense play. its so different from how I thought parenting should be. (we started out too smother-y as first time parents of preemies!) i have learned so much from watching how they play without my suggestions. (play with this, etc) thanks for all of your amazing posts. I learn so much!

    1. Courtney, this sounds fantastic… Thanks for sharing!

      1. Hi Janet,
        I was watching video and I am amazed with these two in they play and how they dont share however the boy was really good when he was trying to offer alternative toy.Now my question is about the situation below:My daughter 9 months and her friend of age 14 month are trying to play together ,I put many toys around them ,she pick only one and she is speaking or putting in her mouth but the boy always grabs her toy ,whatever she pics he take away from her and put on distance so she cant take it again,I wonder if we should interupt and at the end when he takes all her toys and she dont have any to play with he goes or gets up …how this situation might affect her and if we should interupt and how …as well i dont know what to say as mothers are as well sensitive if you say something about their child :/

        1. I am also intrested in the above situation!

  7. I love you observations after watching this video, mostly because I have had the same exact feelings. I love how the boy in the video was so focused on keeping the curler, and at the same time the girl was focused on gaining it from him. He tried so hard to offer an alternative, something I’m working on with my similarly aged children right now. Focus is so fascinating and strong, and I think for some adults surprising at this age. They know what they want and it’s our blessing to be able to support a respectful way for the children to communicate.
    I also understand what you mean about video taping. I’ve often said that I wish I had a button on my shirt that was recording constantly so I could not interrupt, yet record all of these magical moments that happen throughout the day.

  8. Thanks so much for this video. I find myself surrounded by moms literally insisting that their 2 and 3 and 4 years olds share….from the minute the children meet. I’ve been trying to find more info on how toddlers learn to share themselves and the best way, if any, to encourage/ support this learning in a way that doesn’t leave them feeling like they have no claim to things that allegedly belong to them. This is a good start, thank you but would love more info on the subject. I have a 3 and 1 year old. The issue isn’t between them per se, but rather between them and other kids their age. I’m based in South Africa and as far as I can tell we have no RIE groups here.

  9. I guess the only thing I am not understanding is at what age you begin to talk about sharing & then at what age do you intercede if a child is insist upon not sharing or allowing other children to take a turn. I am thinking things like monopolizing a specific toy or grabbing everything another child tries to play with? I have a 20 month old & watch a child 3 weeks younger & my child doesn’t seem to mind at all having his toy taken the first 5 times or so, but at some point gets very frustrated that the ONLY thing the other child is interested in playing with is whatever he picks up & as soon as that child has it, they are only interested in what he picks up next. LOL His reaction is just to cry & set down or come to me & want to nurse. Then the cycle starts all over. It has been this way for months now. :/ Luckily we don’t babysit a lot & it is usually for only a few hours. I have tried saying “he has it right now” & tried getting them involved in two different activities, but it always ends up the same. 🙁

    1. Ophelia, great questions. First, just want to mention that I’m glad you’re doing the most important thing…keeping your sense of humor!

      Regarding sharing, this is a concept that we commonly “mis-teach” children. We tell them to share when we mean “give it to the other child”. I’ve written about this in “The S Word“. Real sharing is best taught gradually through modeling (“I’m going to share some of my rice with you”). Or, commenting positively, “I see you’re sharing your blocks with Emma. Now you can play with them together.”

      But there are situations in which I would definitely intervene more than I did in the video. (I’ve written about that also in “What To Do About A Toddler Toy Taker “.) If a child is stuck in a pattern of interacting by taking toys, I would stop her. I believe she’s asking for boundaries and needs help working on more productive ways to engage. I would place my hand between her and your son and respond according to my sense of the situation. You might say, “I see you want to take the car, but I won’t let you. Please find another way to play with your friend.” Or, “Are you trying to get his attention? Please find another way. I won’t let you take more toys away.” Or, “Are you asking to use the car?” And then to your boy (without putting any pressure on him), “What do you think?” If he indicates NO, I might say, “Emma, he says he’s still using the car. Please find something else until he’s done.”

      Essentially, you just want to be kind, honest, non-judgmental, acknowledge her feelings, but encourage her to figure something else out. She may cry…and that’s really okay. “Emma, I know it’s upsetting when you want something that Bob has, and I won’t let you take it from him.” If you distract her or fix it for her (i.e., hand her something else), she’ll learn less and will be more inclined to continue with her pattern.

  10. Thank you for the video- it really helps put these ideas into practice. I do have a hard time when we’re out or at a playdate with families that may not be like-minded. I find that I try to approach the situation with sportscasting, and do my best to observe and not interrupt. However, I feel like the other parent(s) want me to participate in the “sharing talk” and when I don’t, I feel (embarassingly) self conscious- While my son is typically the first to “take” he is also the first to share. I’d like to let the kids work it out, but I sense that makes other parents quite uncomfortable. Any words of wisdom?

    1. Ohhh – I’d love advice on this one too. So often I feel the same pressure from other parents with my silence, and really I just want to watch the event unfold without our interruption and allow it to be a meaningful moment among our kids.

      1. Pamela and Beth, I hear this question from parents in my classes all the time…and it’s a tough one. Until some of these ideas become mainstream (and notice I’m saying “when”, not “if”) the approach you are taking is the unusual one. And, honestly, if other children are used to parents being much more “hands on”, it’s much harder for them to function in these situations. I remember being frustrated when my boy (who was/is so incredibly social) would be rebuffed by other children when he made even the most appropriate, charming (to me, anyway!) play overtures. But these children had only had real experience interacting with adults — parents and caregivers — so it made perfect sense. If they had ever attempted to interact with a peer the adults were all over them making sure they shared and whatnot. That doesn’t build social confidence. This is why I encourage like-minded playgroups!

        So, the best advice I have is to adapt as best you can so as not to ruffle feathers, but keep your child’s understanding of the situation as your priority. Acknowledge everything that happens. “You wanted that, but i want you to give it back to the boy. Can you do it yourself or do you need me to help?”
        Acknowledge privately to your child afterwards when you have to behave differently from what he or she is used to.

        The respect you show your child will make an impression on others. Remember also, that as the children get a little older and become more “project-oriented” with toys and materials, they need to be stopped before disrupting another’s activity. This usually begins closer to age two, but can happen earlier. Also, please see my response to Ophelia regarding the pattern of taking toys away. Hope this helps…

        1. This is great advice. I’m looking forward to trying it out! Thank you Janet, I’m bookmarking this post so I can refer back – AND look at the other tips you gave. I am still working on my “sportscasting” so I especially loved the examples, “You wanted that, but I want you to give it back to the boy.” Thanks again!

        2. Amy Appel says:

          Janet, I was so happy to read this: “Remember also, that as the children get a little older and become more “project-oriented” with toys and materials, they need to be stopped before disrupting another’s activity. This usually begins closer to age two, but can happen earlier.” I instinctively felt this happening in my toddler class in the last month or two, but I’ve been torn on how to deal with it. I recenty started to notice that many children were becoming more “project based” with materials, and it didn’t feel right to let others come and take what they had been working on. I’ve been feeling like I had to do more to help children who were focused and engaged, but at the same time, I was feeling guilty about intervening. I really respect the RIE idea about letting babies experiment socially, but I’m so glad to see you mention this shift that occurs at a certain point; it really did start to seem different to me, and now I won’t feel guilty for helping children set those boundaries anymore! 🙂

  11. I love how the little boy kept trying to offer her a different toy- thinking perhaps then she’ll stop trying to take my curler. I imagine him thinking: why isn’t she accepting this super cool plastic ring instead. Love his determination of trying over and over to switch her interest off of getting the roller.

    1. Me, too! I was showing my son this video and he laughed when I pretended the little girl was saying, “Don’t give me that garbage.”

  12. It’s always exciting to watch these videos! Far from an RIE class, it’s rare for me to be able to witness two toddlers handling their own conflicts, but they are absolutely, completely and totally capable!

  13. You are surrounded by the CUTEST little ones, Janet! These videos are just delightful. Any advice for new moms like me who are extremely self-conscious around other parents in these situations? It’s difficult to parent in public when there is a certain “parenting etiquette” that you’re not quite following.

    1. Kristin, yes, I have the best job in the world! And yes, it’s difficult to have an approach that conflicts with that of other parents. Please see the long response I just left (above) for Pamela and Beth.

  14. I too would love some input on how to handle the older child with a younger one. My two youngest definitely get into it, with the older of the two doing the taking (he’ll be four in November) the younger is 13 months. I can see some of what the video showed in my baby, but am not sure how it applies to the older of the two. Thanks for the great video!

    1. Hi Sheila! A 4 year old and a 13 month old aren’t anywhere near an even match-up, so it’s a little different. The idea situation would be for the baby to have an enclosed place so that they both have some protection while they play. If and when they are together, I’m imagining that this give and take is more interesting and positive for them than it appears. And even though they can’t have a “fair fight”, they still need time to work out their relationship independent of the judgment of others…as long as they aren’t hurting each other. As with @Ophelia’s situation above, I would put a (non-judgmental) stop to a repeating pattern of “taking” behavior.

  15. Janet, I love, love, LOVE this post! The video is beautiful on so many levels. It so elegantly demonstrates your ideas in practice. Sharing on FB!

    On a personal note, I’ve been implementing many of your suggestions regarding “sharing” with my toddler son and it is amazing to see the positive effects! “Sharing” is not an issue for us the way it seems to be with many other parents. It’s a learning and discovery process. He learns to interact with other kids and I learn how amazing children really are. Good stuff!

    1. Great! Thanks so much for sharing 🙂 the good news!

  16. Renee Miller says:

    I hope that by replying I can see your follow-up to some comments! I have a 12-month old and 18-month old who are both delightfully tenacious in their play. Little brother loves his sister so much, he wants whatever she has. Most of the time she graciously acquiesces, however, occasionally, she really REALLY does not want to give up whatever she is playing with (especially books) and a struggle ensues (not quite as peaceful as the one in the video). I’m never quite sure what to do in these moments, but I do know that all the “take turns” etc. feels out of sync. Thanks.

    1. Struggles with siblings are bound to be less peaceful than those between peers. Amazing that big sister acquiesces sometimes! If you’re there, I would just “sportscast” the struggles and acknowledge the feelings. I know it’s hard to watch, but it is so healthy for siblings to feel supported to develop their relationship without the sting of their parent’s judgments.

  17. thank you for all the responses to the comments above, janet!
    this post was so great and the questions that came up were on my mind, too… so i really appreciate you taking the time to respond with such thoughtful words – and more links!

    sharing is a big one for me right now and the more i read about it, the more equipped i feel. so thanks!

  18. Cindie Cook says:

    I have watched many parents (easily embarrassed and quick to want their child do the “right thing”) allow another child to take their child’s toy away from them and call it sharing. A toy that their child brought specifically for themselves to play with and that the other child, also too young to share, has no plans of sharing anyway.

    The other child, a total stranger, proceeds to take the toy and go to the other end of the pool or sandbox with it and begins to play with and treat the toy as their own, which is totally understandable for the child to think. It is also totally understandable that the child whose toy has been taken is upset…and then their own parent starts to get on them about “sharing” and makes them the bad guy!

    Of course, the child who brought their toy starts to cry while their parent begins to tell their child, while glancing repeatedly at the other parent, that they HAVE TO SHARE THEIR TOYS, it’s not nice to not share and on and on…without ever noticing their is no sharing going on anywhere!

    The parent of the other child usually meekly tells their child to give the toy back, but the first parent insists that it’s OK, their child “needs to learn to share” and the new parent agrees and may even say to their child “now, honey, share with her…”, but it doesn’t happen because these children are too young to share. I am talking about baby pool age, some too young for even side by side play.

    There is a difference between sharing and stealing. Why isn’t the focus, if the parents are intent on teaching something the children are too young to learn anyway, not to steal?

    Sharing is playing together with a toy. Stealing is grabbing a child’s toy away from them and leaving with it. Even a 2 or 3 year old can see that this child TOOK their toy and isn’t sharing, which is what their mother is telling them to do, but no one is telling the other child, who is happily playing with THEIR toy down at the other end of the pool!

    This entire scenario seems to be more based on both sets of parents insecurities and embarrassment than on right vs wrong.

    I have watched this same scene play out over and over with all types of different parents at the baby pool or in the sandbox. Have your child’s back, for goodness sake!

    That’s my opinion. If you are going to teach something that is over your child’s age limit to learn anyway, teach them not to steal. They will learn to share on their own time.

  19. Safra Granot says:

    Hi Janet,

    I find myself turning to your blog more and more as my boy gets bigger…I now feel that I am at an impasse and would love your advice, or to be pointed in the right direction for more information.

    My son will be 2 next week, and we live in northern Israel, far, far away from like minded parents (unless, of course, we have the money to pay for extremely expensive Montessori childcare, entailing between half to 1 hour drives each way, daily…which we don’t).

    With no other parents with this frame of mind (I have been on the prowl), or anything remotely close to it, I find it totally impossible not to have to be over-involved in his interactions with other children. Along with this, those social influences are very clearly molding him, as well. More often than not, broadcasting doesn’t cut it.

    I would love ideas of keeping the form while socializing with other children, both his age, and older, and younger. He has older and younger cousins next door, who are being raised with no framework and often acting out and bullying. He also has daily interactions with children of many age groups outside of family.

    I am already considered crazy by just about everyone who comes in contact with me for most of the things I “allow” him to do and the independence that we give him (he was the first in his age group at everything – sitting, standing, walking, talking, climbing, emotional intelligence, you name it…just more evidence to me that this is the right path for him to grow in).

    He is in day care all day, on our Kibbutz, with the same children that he will grow up with, likely until they are all in their 20’s, if not for life. It would be unfair to him to take him away from this soon to be close knit circle, and this all day child care is not only the norm, but expected. I was pressured almost daily to put him in FT child care from the time he was 4 months old, we started him this September at 1 year 10 months.

    How can I guide my child and give him these principles, which seem so natural to me, but would in essence, constitute a form of parallel and totally separate form of upbringing from what he is in from 8-4, and on the playground, and at the store (a central meeting point), and at his family’s…all a part of his daily routine, and often ending at around 6?

    Guidance and advice, as always, are greatly appreciated. I would love more resources to study that can help with this.

    Yet again, thank you!


  20. Janet-

    If the child continues to hit the other child after the child tries to take back the toy, what do you recommend? I know you stated “I won’t let you hit”, but what if they continue to do it even after the verbal cue. Thanks!

    1. Cathy, we must always do our best to be there to intervene when children are hurting each other. “Intervene” means not only stating, “I won’t let you hit”, but also placing a hand between the children so that hitting, pushing, biting, etc., is impossible.

  21. Wow I have almost the same comment as Courtney Peters above, I also have 2 year old twins who yes, will often have conflict over wanting the same toy but also have developed wonderful problem solving and communication skills. For the most part they share amazingly well, it’s really fun to watch them!

  22. Katharine says:

    Thanks for the video! Helps me feel less alone as I practice RIE in suburbia, all alone!

  23. Emily Mir says:

    Thank you for your beautiful videos of these toddlers playing with each other. It reminds me to slow down and respectfully observe my twins play. I wonder if you could give me some tips on how to respond with a current dilemma I am experiencing. Our 17 month old boy and girl twins are biting each other, usually it occurs when they are tired or hungry and one has a toy that the other wants or one has mum or dad’s attention (maybe having a cuddle on a lap) and feels worried that their sibling is approaching mum or dad and the attention will be diverted or shared! I don’t want to yell but get really stressed. What is the best way to respond in order to protect their safety, teach respect and stay sane myself!

  24. Xanthe Gazard says:

    Lovely video. My dilemma is this: I agree with and practise these techniques, but very few others I know/come into contact with do the same. I know that continually sharing my beliefs and/or asking people not to intervene is not always well accepted (and why should my request (of leave them be) be more important that their request (of make them share) anyway?). Short of ditching my friends and family in order to surround myself with only people who follow the same ideas, how can I offer consistency to my toddler and baby when sometimes they are asked to share (not by me) and sometimes they are left to work things out?

  25. Hi,

    I was wondering if maybe I could ask a question. I am attempting to come to grips with this idea. I really am open to dialogue and don’t want to argue – I just need some help figuring things out. I am a new room leader and I don’t have any mentorship. I hope it is okay to post this.

    How do you resolve the tension of one child always being “taken from” when you are trying to not impose sharing? If one child is constantly be taken from because of a more passive nature, or the child is taken from and, if she/he tries to say “NO”, the other child overpowers them and takes the object regardless?

    Another question I have is, coming from a new room leader in a 3-4 room, is this also applicable to a 3-4 age group? A problem that occurs is that one child will “stay” with an item for a long time, without engaging with it (holding it, it seems), which incites pushing and biting from a few other children. And the other children who are “waiting” never gain access to the toy (the holding can be very persistent). I try for as long as I can to wait for someone to “share” voluntarily, but sometimes the tensions get so high that I become overwhelmed. This mostly happens in “single item” situations like using the climbing frame, jumping from the jumping blocks, blowing bubbles etc.

    In a simliar vein, what to do about “hoarding” behaviours, where a child will attempt to “take” many toys (not engaging with the toy)?

    I am really sorry to post this here, but I really want to talk about this with someone!

  26. I have a question. My daughter, Kaylee is 2 1/2 years old. She is a very sweet, giving, loving, observant girl. She loves other children and she has always been good at sharing. I currently watch another little girl named Mirah once week who turns 2 in April. She is very hands on, a bit aggressive and is currently going through a pushy stage where she says, “NO! MINE!” and grabs practically everything away from Kaylee, and yesterday she went so far as to pushing her off of her chair so she could sit there for herself. My daughter just stares at her after these incidences with a face of observation and somewhat hurt feelings I think. I understand letting them learn how to interact on their own, but if the behavior just keeps continuining and no one is teaching Mirah to share and to not take and I don’t teach my daughter to stick up for herself somehow, how are they going to learn? Do I just hope one day Mirah decides to not behave this way and also hope that one day my kid suddenly has a backbone? Please help. Thanks very much. Jess

  27. LOVE this! Just had an experience today with my 18 month old “sharing” or lack thereof. I can foster the above learning when with my like minded friends but find it difficult when in public play situations. Do you have any advice for a playground or play gym? My son will say no and try to take back whatever was taken from him but other parents have the sharing expectation – (we don’t have any RIE groups here in Vancouver:( )

  28. Jill Finney says:

    Hi Janet, I am fairly new to RIE parenting but I appreciate your posts and find that they really resonate with me. We live in a townhouse complex with a gated common area which allows for my 2 year old daughter to play with our neighbour’s children frequently. The neighbours and I both have an open-door type policy when it comes to the kids which I really love. However, my neighbour’s 3 year old son repeatedly (and quite aggressively) grabs toys from my daughter. Usually I try to remain neutral and validate her feelings and often she doesn’t seem too bothered by it and just walks away. Sometimes it escalates to screaming and tears and I still try to validate and sportscast but often find myself removing her from the situation. The boys parents don’t interfere and if they do it is mostly to say “well he doesn’t like to share” or “its his toy” which I find just promotes ownership. I don’t feel like I can comfortably intervene based on his parent’s responses but I find myself wondering if these interactions are harmful for my daughter’s self-esteem. I am beginning to feel that playing with the neighbour will have to happen on neutral ground where I will feel more comfortable gently correcting his behaviour. I would love to hear your thoughts on this!

  29. Hi Janet! I was introduced to your website/podcasts/book a few days ago and have been devouring everything. I was particularly excited to take my 17 month old to the children’s museum today to practice some of the sharing lingo I have been learning from you.

    Previously, I would step in immediately when a child was trying to take something my son was playing with, or vice vera, and I while it feels unnatural I was excited to try and put my adult vision aside and try to “see toddler”.

    So long story short, I live in a particularly conservative, traditional city and the other parents were less than thrilled when my son took a toy from another boy and I stood there providing commentary. Another mom even told her son that my child was “mean”. I know I shouldn’t let this get to me… but I’m wondering if maybe I should save these tools for a more conducive environment (like a preschool where everyone has the same beliefs?). I don’t know… it got me down more than I’d like to admit. How do you deal with parents (and children) who are on a different page?

    Thank you so much.


  30. Hi Janet. Wonderful video, I wish I could find a class like this in Houston. I feel like I am a little too late with my almost two year. Inevitably at every playdate, he hits or pushes another child usually over a toy. He is very active, so while I stay close, he runs around quite a bit and so I can’t always prevent it. I try using the phrases you used here, but I don’t think he responds to them. I do think I use a stronger tone with him so I will try to tone it down and be more unruffled. It just seems that the two toddlers in the video are much more calm natured than my son who would have been screeching and flailing his arms ready to attack at this point. Any suggestions for a more high strung child?

  31. Hi Janet,
    I found this helpful and I agree with what you are suggesting. I find I am able to let these situations happen organically with my sister because she also appreciates your parenting solutions and so we often sit back, state the obvious if a child is asking for help, and watch our children figure out their play disagreements themselves.
    My challenge is when I go to a drop in or play group where I don’t know the other parents. My (almost) 2 year old son will be possessive of toys if others (of any age) are using them, saying the usual statements like “Mine! My car!” and crying with devastation. I feel comfortable at this level, but then he continues to push that child or pull the toy away aggressively, and I feel compelled to stop him (gently) before he hurts someone.
    What is the best way to incorporate your methods when my child is being demanding of other children, whose parents are watching closely and don’t know me well?
    Thanks for your guidance.

  32. Hi Janet,
    I’ve been using these techniques with my now 21 month old twins, and it is amazing to see what they can work out on their own. There are times though, where one will be playing with something and the other one comes along and grabs it, and a real struggle ensues, with them both holding on to said item and shrieking and crying. If the one that was playing with it first losses possession of it that one gets really upset. I am wondering at what point it’s appropriate to step in (if at all) when things are escalating like that and how to go about it. Thanks!

  33. I love this and I really believe in letting kids negotiate and play with one another in this manner—my 13-month-old daughter does this a lot in “neutral territory” places like the playground. However, when our friends come to our house with their toddlers, who immediately set upon her playmat and toys, my daughter loses it and starts bawling or tantruming (which she rarely does otherwise).

    She calms once we sit beside her and chat with her about what is happening but doesn’t seem totally able to get to that calm place herself when other little people seemingly invade her space. Ideas?

    Thank you for all your incredible insight and generosity in sharing with us!

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