When Your 3 Year Old Grabs Toys

Hi Janet, 

I started reading your blog several months ago, and have managed to read most of your posts, and a couple of Magda Gerber’s books too. I have 2 children, Caleb is now 3 1/2 years and Bella is 7 months. I really struggled looking after them both after Bella was born. I had been unwell for the entire pregnancy (hyperemesis gravidarum), so had no time to really recover before the sleepless nights kicked in. Dealing with our lovely and spirited son’s intense feelings and behaviors throughout this transition made each day full on!

I was exhausted and tried everything to cope (including a naughty step, I’m ashamed to say). I reached rock bottom a few months later. That was when I started reading your blog. I read it in every spare moment, and it made so much sense to my husband and me. We felt a real heart change in ourselves, and quickly decided to start making small changes.

We noticed a huge difference within a couple of days. I felt more relaxed, peaceful and accepting about the struggles. We started making comments like ‘I can see you tried really hard at that’ and ‘you did that by yourself’ and ‘you must be feeling really proud of yourself’..

The most obvious sign of something changing was that Caleb’s tantrums stopped straight away, and he became much more confident and happy.

Things have just blossomed for us as a family. I’ve been loving doing RIE from the early days with Bella, and she is thriving on it. Caleb has recently started to come and tell us when he’s feeling sad or angry — and why, which is new for him. I’m really excited about this journey we have started together. 

The only thing that is proving to be a bit tricky is when I spend time with my friends who are parenting in different ways from me. Caleb is very determined, and will grab toys he wants off other children, and the other parents will say ‘share‘ or ‘take turns’. It’s difficult to not feel under pressure to ask him to give the toy back (as their child is usually bawling), when I just want their child to go for it and grab it back, and us to stay present as they work it out between them. I’d love some wisdom on that if you have time… I think I’m concerned about how Caleb’s actions will come across to people who don’t understand what I’m doing.

One more thing: I feel so passionate about RIE and would love there to be a support network for parents in the UK. I can’t find anything happening here in the UK, and I wondered if you knew anyone here I could get in contact with? I would love to do the RIE Foundations Course. I am a nurse, but this has become something so close to my heart that I want to learn as much as I can and grow as a family in it, and also see others have positive changes in their lives too. 

Thank you so much again for everything!


Hi Alice,

Thank you so much for your warm and exciting note! I’m thrilled to know that RIE is changing your life in positive ways as it has certainly changed mine…and continues to guide me beautifully with my three children. The relationships I have with my children are intimate, supportive and extremely rewarding. And they are a source of great pride. My 20 year old tells me I’m her best friend (and she has many!). You will never for one moment regret this path you are on.

A very common struggle many RIE families face is when friends and family aren’t on the same page and might not understand your parenting approach. I know how isolating that can be, but it gradually becomes easier after children turn 3, because practices like talking to children respectfully and encouraging independent play stand out less as children become more verbal.

Regarding Caleb taking toys, I’d begin to intervene a little bit more at his age in order to help increase his consciousness and learn more socially acceptable ways of engaging with other children. Is the toy taking occasional, or do you see it becoming a pattern? Either way, if you happen to be close enough, I would gently try to stop him, particularly around people who do not understand the value of allowing children to learn from each other.

For example, as he’s reaching for the toy in another child’s possession, place your hand in the way (calmly, always calmly) and ask, “Are you interested in the __? It seems Sarah is holding it right now.”

Stay there, stay calm and WAIT. Often the children will work something out at that point. Sarah might turn and move away or say ‘no’ or offer Caleb the toy. If he reaches for it again, try, “You seem to really want that __. Is there another way you can ask Sara to use it?” Again, staying calm, and with no pressure implied (pressure that Sarah should now give it to him, etc.). If he continues to try to get the toy, keep your hand in the way and acknowledge, “I see you’re very determined to use that toy, but I will not let you grab it. You will have to wait until Sarah is done.” This might seem wordy and labor intensive, but if you are calm and consistent, he will stop doing this very soon.

If you don’t get there in time, I would simply reflect the feelings of the children without shame or blame: “Sarah, you were using that and now Caleb has it. You seem upset.” But again, if you feel pressure from the other parent, you might need to ask Caleb, “Can you please return the toy to Sarah, or will you need my help?”  Again, this is not going to be as helpful to him as the shadowing…and know that the shadowing will just be for a brief phase if you are calm and unemotional about it.

If the playdate is at your house, you can help Caleb feel more in control by asking him beforehand which toys he’d like to share when his friends come and then putting the rest away.

Thanks again for your note, Alice, and please keep in touch!



Hi Janet! 

Thank you so much for your email and the helpful ideas – things are changing, Caleb is responding, seems to be adjusting and enjoying playtimes more. Your relationships with your children sound wonderful. What I really love about RIE is that it’s a journey and very much about starting out as you mean to go on. Friends of mind talk about the difficulties they’re having with their children, using incentives, sticker charts, rewards, and how things will get easier when they are a bit older… It all sounds so strange having been thinking about the RIE approach for a while now. You really are laying things down now for the future, and I love that!

Many thanks again!





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

  1. Aaaahhh… Janet – I love this letter so much. Seriously, I’m reading it with tears streaming down my face. I could have written this letter. Alice’s comment, “we felt a real heart change in ourselves” is exactly what is happening with me.
    I only wish I were better at it. Sometimes I coast along for weeks and feel like I’m really improving at and then I catch myself hollering at the kids (!) and I just hate it.
    I come back to your blog and read again so I can remind myself and grow more.
    Thank you again for this amazing website and your heart for parents and kids.
    It is the singular most influential positive force in my parenting journey.


    1. Please keep up the wonderful work, Monna. Changing our patterns is SO challenging. Hang in there… and thank you for your lovely comment!

  2. Hi Janet,

    Do you have any thoughts on the differences, if any, between RIE and The Pikler Approach more commonly found in England and Europe?

    Dorothy Marlen in York, England, took RIE Foundations with me and I know she has taken several trainings at Loczy and is also Steiner trained – all very respectful approaches to early care. For information about her parent and baby programs:


    I hope this is helpful to Alice and other readers living in the UK.

    Thank you Janet, I continue to find so much useful information in your posts!


    1. Hi Helen! It’s good to hear from you! I just had a glance at Dorothy’s program and it seems lovely. A couple of differences stood out for me. For one, the Rudolf Steiner influence… Steiner’s views might be considered RIE/Pikler compatible, but the Steiner approach was not a particular recommendation of Pikler’s or Gerber’s. Also the mention of nursery rhymes, which have never been an aspect of RIE classes. Apart from snack time (which the children at RIE choose to participate in or not), the RIE class curriculum is totally child-led.

  3. This post really helped me! My daughter used to take toys from other children at 2 and fortunately I had friends who parented the same way and it eventually stopped. Now at 4 she is doing it again, sometimes to younger children who aren’t verbal. I wanted to intervene but wasn’t sure how, so these steps and examples of what to say really help! Thank you!

    1. Great, Mel! Sometimes children, especially those age 3 and older, take toys when other situations in their lives cause them to feel “out of control”. So they grab toys to try to regain a sense of control. Have there been any big changes happening lately?

  4. Hi Janet,

    Another wonderful article. Thank you for the constant source of parenting wisdom. My son is 21mo and is starting to take toys from other children both younger and older. He usually just takes it but if they resist he can get physical (e.g. grabbing their shirt or pushing). Obviously I need to intervene when things escalate but sometimes I find it hard to stop him in time (unless I am closely shadowing him). Should I try the shadowing approach you recommend in this article to encourage prosocial behaviour? Or at his age should I let him experiment a bit more with what happens when you take toys?


    1. Hi Jen! Thanks for your kind, supportive words. I would always try to be close and attentive when your toddler is engaging with other children, especially since he has been getting a bit physical. If you are with like-minded parents and the children are similar in age, I would try to be there to put a hand in the way and prevent the grabbing and pushing. I would also sportscast and acknowledge the feelings you see: “I see you want that toy that Kate is holding. Kate is holding tightly. I won’t let you grab her shirt” (while removing his fingers from her shirt). “You both want that.” But sportscasting ISN’T a constant running dialogue… Here’s a video that might help illustrate: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RtckXhDpM_8&feature=c4-overview&list=UUaICuB_dNMBliDawMmoYaaQ

      In other words, I would allow him to experiment with the give and take of toys, but perhaps “shadow” to prevent the physical stuff, support both children and acknowledge feelings. If the child is much younger than your son, I might not allow him to take the toy… It’s hard to generalize! And observation is the key…

  5. Maclachlan says:

    I have a related question about my 2.5 year old. Often, if another child takes her toy or even approaches her bike while she’s riding it, she seems devastated – her face crumbles and she begins to SOB as if something truly horrific is happening. She will then run to me crying and need cuddles before she’s willing to go play again (other parents are always horrified that she has such an intense reaction and force their kids to apologize for non-issues, which is a frustrating side issue). I say things like “it really upset you that A took that toy while you were playing with it”, “what did you feel when that happened?” Sometimes I get perhaps too involved and prompt, saying “next time you can try saying ‘no thank you’ and offering another toy to A”. IT concerns me that she is so affected by such simple interactions; I would like her to learn to manage these conflicts more confidently on her own. How can I better deal with these situations?

    1. These are good questions! I would say much less, just leave it at: “It really upset you that A took that toy while you were playing with it”. The problem with saying more, giving her instructions (and also your “concern” and everyone’s horror, which your daughter picks up on), is that you are fueling these events, making too much of them. I would accept your daughter’s strong reactions, acknowledge them, but not be concerned. Toddlers often seem to overreact, and that is because they often have intense feelings about all kinds of other things simmering close to the surface… Minor disappointments can provide the impetus for them to open their spouts and let out some steam. When children sob we can trust that they need to sob. “That disappointed you so much.” Expressing feelings is always good.

      Your daughter will manage conflicts more confidently on her own when you trust more — trust her reactions, trust her to ask for cuddles if she needs them, trust her feelings, trust her to be able to express them fully and then move on when she’s ready.

      1. Maclachlan says:

        This is so helpful. I’m due with our second baby in a couple of weeks so it makes a lot of sense that she is having intense feelings that she needs to let out. I will work on relaxing and trusting. Thank you!

        1. Oh, that would explain it! You’re so welcome and I wish you a wonderful birth experience!

  6. I love this! It gives some other verbiage to say to my tot. At 2.5 he’s in Montessori school and he’s not taught to share there. They say that something is “unavailable” if it’s being played with by another child. So “unavailable” has become a common word in my house, but I love the aspect of acknowledging his feelings when I say that. Thanks!

    1. Thanks, Rose! Sounds good… at RIE classes we usually would allow children to take a toy from another child at age 2.5, because we have noticed how much they learn by working these things out independently. But I understand that most schools protect “turns”, etc.

  7. Janet, how I wish I could have you on speed dial… I always think “What would Janet do?” 🙂 I need advice on how to handle when your child gets toys yanked out of their hands. My son is 21 months and I’m not sure how to handle this. Thanks!

    1. I like the speed dial idea! Lucy, I would simply acknowledge your child’s truth. If your child is not upset, I would say something like, “Hmmm… I saw that. You were holding the toy and now so-in-so has it,” with ZERO emotion attached. If he IS upset, I would say in the same matter-of-fact manner, “You didn’t like that. You had the toy and now so-in-so has it.” Allow him to take in this situation… and know that he can handle it. This doesn’t mean being insensitive…it’s about being careful not to “add-on” our own feelings, concerns, etc., and it’s also about believing in our child, which is the key to him building self-confidence.

  8. Hi Janet,
    Thank you for this most pertinant article. My 3 year old is really great at grabbing whatever her 15 month old sister happens to be playing with. Now that my 15 month old is bigger, she is not so happy about letting go of what she is playing with. My question is, what should I do when they start having a tug-of-war over the item? I don’t want them to get hurt, but if I try to intervene physically that just seems like I’m setting a bad example. What action and verbage should I use to get them to stop? Thanks.

    1. Hi Sarah! With siblings I would not do more than acknowledge in a matter-of-fact manner, “You both want that. I see you both tugging at it. Yikes, that’s hard when you both want that same toy, isn’t it?” Your daughter “not being happy about letting go” is learning how to “play” with her sister as more of an equal. There is usually a lot of drama attached to this kind of play. In other words, it’s more fun for both of them than it looks.

      1. Christina says:

        “In other words, it’s more fun for both of them than it looks.”

        Wow, I’m learning so much from this post and the comments! We had this exact situation today and both my husband and I felt at a loss as to what to do…we’re still learning the RIE approach and so many times, all we know is what NOT to do or say. 🙂 Thanks for providing specific dialogue to use in these situations. That is really helpful. It never crossed my mind that perhaps the drama of this play situation was fun in some way for them.

  9. dear Janet many times I wonder when would be the transition time to start intervening a bit more in this kind of exchange between children. Sometimes I observe a child gets stucked grabbing other children´s toys and that refrains him from playing. And sometimes I feel some children have had enough of struggling on their own when everything they hold is grabbed from another child in the playgroup. Then I tend to say calm and firm: “I wont let you grab this toy now” and place my hand in between. Then I wait to see their reaction. As you say, many times they work something out and I wonder: should I have done this before, did I wait a little bit too long? Since I knew RIE it has always been the hard part for me to know when to intervene and when not…

    1. Hi Fernanda! So great to hear from you. I’ve noticed, even while answering the comments on this post, how impossible it is to generalize these situations. Each is unique and nuanced. If the child is stuck in a pattern, and it is clearly getting the better of him or her, I would intervene as you suggest and I suggest in this post. Also, with a child closer to 3 years old and older I would intervene a bit more. By then, the grabbing has usually gone beyond the experimentation and “hi, how are you I want to play with you, but don’t know how” stage into something more intentional, more about testing limits, less socially adaptive. Continual observation of the children the key to knowing what to do… because you can sense their intentions… and sometimes these intentions are along the lines of “help, stop me, I need boundaries.” Or, “please get me out of this pattern of upsetting my friends.”

      In this post I address more of these subtleties: https://www.janetlansbury.com/2011/02/what-to-do-about-a-toddler-toy-taker/

      But most importantly, Fernanda, I commend you for the work you are doing! So glad you are there!

      1. Thank you so much Janet! It happens in my playgroups that children tend to be older than in RIE groups, there are only a few little babies, more toddlers groups and a group near age 3. And this was precisely my feeling, that it was more a need for boundries than a socially adaptive need. I really appreciate your generoisty and you know my work has been strongly influenced (and benefited) thanks to your blog and the way you share Magda Gerber ideals. We keep in touch! Love, Fernanda

  10. Hi Alice, if you’re in the north east of England (long shot!) I’d love it if you could get in touch 🙂 If you are and you comment here maybe Janet would be kind enough to pass my email address onto you?

    Love this post, I’ve been wondering about this – in a waiting room the other day I found myself saying lots of things I wasn’t happy about as my 2 year old constantly took toys off other children :-/

  11. Thank you for this wonderful article Janet. It’s going right at the top of my rec list!

    This issue has come up frequently in my older toddler playgroups and in my nanny job. It is hard to know when to use the “keep them safe, narrate, let them work it out” approach and when more intervention is needed. I see you saying in the article and the comments that the difference is about age and the child’s intentions in taking. Most struggles from 2 year olds and younger don’t need guidance, just safety and narration. Older children (2.5 and up) may need more guidance. Children that seem to be stuck in a testing pattern may need more guidance. More intervention is also needed when other families might not understand the “let them work it out” approach, but this is for their benefit and not necessarily your child’s. Does that sound about right?

    Thanks again and looking forward to seeing you at the conference in a few days!

  12. Hi Janet

    I can’t put into words how great your blog is. So many great articles packed with wisdom. So many things that have just made sense.

    However, despite all my reading and thinking I still feel lost on this issue. Stuck in a rut. I’m really hoping you can shed some light and help me back on the right path.

    It usually goes something along these lines: my son (9 mths) is engrossed with a toy and my daughter (3.5 yrs) comes along, eager to play with him. She’ll start playing with the baby with the same toy that he has (“We’re playing a game, Mummy!”). But this usually leads to her having the toy, often accompanied by “Oh, thank you, you’re sharing it with me” or “No! You can’t play with that because [insert excuse here]”. I can cope with that the first few times, but when it happens over and over again (in the same 5 minutes) it gets very wearing – for me and my son. Whatever my son picks up, my daughter makes a bee-line for. My son is too young to verbalise and my daughter often ‘talks for him’ (“Can I have this? – Yes. He said I can have it Mummy!”).

    It’s true that my son doesn’t mind having toys taken from him that much because he just turns round and picks something else up, but he does get frustrated when every toy is taken and he isn’t given the space to do his own thing. My daughter also gets quite physical, always wanting to be touching him – overenthusiastic cuddles (over and over again), holding his hands/arms/legs (“I’m helping him to sit/stand/walk, Mummy”), lying right next to him and blocking his path, crawling over him as he crawls… Sometimes he cries out and looks at me with eyes that seem to be saying “Why are you letting her do this to me, Mummy?” I can see that he just wants some space to play his own game, without being pulled around!

    I’ve read ‘Siblings Without Rivalry’ and I’m an avid reader of your blog, but for all the reading I do I just can’t seem to see the wood from the trees. Should I leave my children to work it out between them and trust that they will find a solution? If I intervene, am I imposing the role of ‘victim’ onto my son (as discussed in Siblings Without Rivalry), destroying his ability to fend for himself? If I don’t intervene, am I letting him down (“How can you let her do that to me Mummy?”)?

    At the moment, I tend to intervene by asking her to give him some space, or to stop holding his arms etc. I also started a ‘Wait before taking a toy’ rule but I don’t know if that’s the right thing to do. After several reminders, or if something very rough happens, she has to come out of the baby play area. I can’t be right next to them every time they play together – I need to cook dinner, for example (I’m never more than a couple of metres away and always in sight, but not close enough to block my daughter’s moves).

    My daughter has had a lot of big tantrums in the last few months too. I feel she is calling out for more boundaries. I try to be consistent but I find it really hard to know when to step in, so the boundaries aren’t even clear to me (she doesn’t stand a chance!). I talk to her about how she might be feeling, and that it’s normal for big sisters to feel cross/angry/sad etc with a new baby.

    Is this just a phase? Am I prolonging it by reacting the way I do? How can I handle this better (and without getting stressed by it)?

    One last thing. Very early on it was clear that my daughter was upset that my son was being given some of ‘her’ toys from when she was a baby. I quickly backtracked, gave ‘her’ toys back to her and allowed her to decide if and when a toy could be assigned to the baby area for everyone to play with. Since then, she often puts new things in the baby area that she’s happy to share. Periodically, during a big ‘tidy-up’, I might suggest that some things would be suitable for my son now and ask if she wants to share them – sometimes it’s ‘yes’, sometimes it’s ‘no’. All her toys get assimilated into my son’s toy bag for tidying purposes, although they’re still considered ‘her’ toys. Two days ago, we had a big tidy-up and she agreed that some of her baby board books could go in the baby area. Today was particularly challenging in terms of physical behaviour towards my son. Could this toy sharing be causing upset? If so, what would you suggest?

    Thank you in advance for taking the time to read this long, rambling message. I hope that you will be able to help.

    1. “All her toys get assimilated into my son’s toy bag for tidying purposes, although they’re still considered ‘her’ toys.”

      Just to be clear, I mean all the toys that she has chosen to share in the baby area get tidied into the bag.

      1. Hi Vicky! Thanks for your kind words about the blog. I’m so glad it’s been helpful to you.

        I can understand how easily these issues become muddled. My advice is to totally let go of your daughter’s toy giving and taking, and the “talking” she does for the baby. This behavior makes SO much sense, and almost every big brother or sister displays some version of this. For many of us, fear and loss create an intense desire to regain control. And new babies create feelings of fear and loss for most older siblings. Your daughter is expressing her feelings through this typical older sibling behavior. If she can control everything this little guy does, he seems less of a threat to her relationship with you. So, UNDERSTAND this behavior and let it go completely, while helping your daughter explore her feelings whenever possible. “It must feel like the baby has taken over your life sometimes. It can be scary to accept this big change… It’s been difficult for all of us. Always know that Daddy and I adore you more each day. Nothing will ever change that.”

        Trust both of your children to pass through this phase (which IS temporary, but will re-emerge from time to time as your boy develops into a more able “rival”). BUT, make it clear that she is not allowed to push, re-position, hit, or otherwise handle the baby physically. This will happen when you are not in the room, and try to let that go with just a brief, matter-of-fact reminder, “I don’t want you to grab or move your brother, because it isn’t safe.” If you are there and can prevent it from happening, do so while remaining very calm and neutral, “I won’t let you… that’s not safe.” Be very careful not to “charge” these actions with your emotions. When this (and the toy-taking, actually) becomes a very BLAH, boring thing to do, it will happen far less. So be matter-of-fact, protect when you can, give brief reminders and TRUST.

        Regarding her toys, let her share what she wants to share and don’t question her choices…which I would expect to be all-over-the-place and not make much sense.

        1. Janet,
          Many thanks for such a quick response. What you say makes perfect sense, although I’m still confused about where/what the boundary should be if she continues to be physical with the baby. 🙁 I might say, for example, “I won’t let you hurt the baby” when the cuddles start getting too vigorous. She’ll say “Ok” quite happily, move away for a few seconds, and then move back in and start leaning on him or holding his arm. If she continues to ignore my requests to be gentle, should I send her out of the baby area? If I do that (and I stay with the baby), am I reinforcing her negative feelings towards the baby because she’s being sent away from the baby AND me?

          When I do take her out of the baby area, she always wants to go back in straight away, even if I’m not in there with him. As soon as she goes back in, she gets physical – even if she’s just been doing a different activity, independently or with me. Do I just repeatedly, matter-of-factly, without emotion remove her from the baby area each and every time she gets physical? Or does there come a point when she’s had enough chances and the baby area becomes ‘off-limits’ for, say, the rest of the afternoon?

          Maybe giving cuddles should only be allowed when supervised? I find the cuddling aspect of her play the hardest because I don’t want to quash her affections. Most of her cuddles are too rough, but it’s hard to put a clear boundary on what’s acceptable and what isn’t.

          Thanks again.

  13. Hi Janet,
    Your website and answers to comments have helped me so much over the past couple of years. Thank you!
    My son is 2.5 now and is a quiet and thoughtful little boy. I really struggle over how to handle this situation that keeps coming up. When I take him to various playgroups (unfortunately non-RIE ones as we are in the UK) and he is playing with a toy, if another child takes his toy, he doesn’t try to get it back. This would be fine, except when I ask him if he would like to continue playing with the toy, he says yes. (This has even happened at the playground, with his own toy that is very special to him, that another older child came up and took.) I’ve talked to him about asking himself in that moment whether he would like to finish playing with the toy or whether he feels ok that the other child took it. And if he wasn’t finished with it and wants it back then he needs to tell the other child to wait his turn please and take the toy back. But if he’s ok with the child taking it then he can move onto another toy/activity.

    -What do I do if the other child won’t give it back to my son even after he asks for it and tries to take it?
    -Is there a better way to handle this?

    I find these situations very difficult because I also don’t want to offend the other parent and child but I want to teach my son to take care of himself. (Interestingly, for myself I find it difficult to put my needs before the needs of others and I really don’t want to teach this co-dependent habit to my son.)

    Any thoughts?
    Thank you!

  14. When my daughter trie. to grab something off another child I usually say sonething like “Childs name has that toy. When he/she is finished you may have a turn” she usually accepts this and so will the other child. My daughter will wait and the other child typically gives it to her after a short period. I learnt this approach from Janet’s blg so thank you!! Dont know if my words are to the exact RIE guideline, but I find it very effective majority of the time.

  15. Hi Janet,

    Wow, this is a great article. We are currently facing this same issue and this article has helped me, thank you. I’ve only discovered your site currently and trying to apply RIE to our life. However I don’t know where to start, are you able to point me to direct me to starting point please?I have 3 years old daughter and 18 months son. We have loads of issues that we are trying to work out, such as hitting, talking back when asked to do something. I want my partner to get onboard but not having much luck.

    Many thanks

  16. Hi Beth – I’m in north east England, where are you? I’m just starting to learn about Janet’s approach and think it could be helpful to me, are you already using it?

  17. Hi Janet, I’ve been following RIE on Facebook for years. Just wondering about a younger child – I have a nearly 14 month old boy who is quite gentle but does try to take toys sometimes, from children we don’t know and also friends’ children. What do you do and say with a younger child? the other parent is also usually insisting on sharing or won’t let their kid even try to take a toy from him.

  18. Great article, love everything that your write Janet. Commenting here to mainly try and get in touch with Alice. I am keen to get more RIE support going in the UK. Where abouts are you Alice? I am in Glasgow. Would love to meet other RIE parents!

  19. I love this note as its something I struggle with as well. I was just thinking of it actually after a very upsetting incident we had. One of the hardest things seems to be teaching my son while navigating other parents. I have been on both sides of the situation- my kid was the one taking the toy, or pushing, and my kid was the one whose toy was taken from or was hit/pushed, and they both can be hard.
    Its wonderful when you are around like minded parents, and I can tell how much faster things calm down.But I have been through some rough situations where my son just looked at me so confused as to what was happening.
    I started using RIE more consistently with my son after he turned 2, and had lots of big changes in his life. Things got hard for a while, he was even hitting me and others. We have made so much progress that at 2.5years he tells me how he fells, why, and what he needs to do to solve it. He even tells me that sometimes he just cant and loses control, and asks for help.
    Thank you!

  20. Thank you for this. It came at just the right time. My daughter is 1.5 and I have been trying the RIE approach for about 6 months now. I have always told her to “wait” when another child has a toy she wants and she will now make a noise if someone is using something she wants, but then looks at me and says and signs “wait”. And she patiently waits until the other child is done.
    Unfortunately, we had an incident yesterday with a 3 or 4 year old that forcefully grabbed and took the toy she was using. She was, of course, very upset and crying. I tried to talk to her about her feelings, telling her “I see you’re upset that he took your toy. I would be upset too.” But since the other parent was nowhere to be found there wasn’t much I could do. I just waited with her and once he put the toy down I picked it up and gave it back to her. Not quite sure how else to handle it when it’s another parent’s child. Not sure if there was any other way to respond in that situation. It just broke my heart.

  21. Samantha Murrell says:

    Thank you Janet for another wonderful article. I have only recently found you and have been gobbling up all your advice and reading everything of yours that I can get my hands on! I am so excited to have found RIE! My daughter is 13 months old and is so absolutely wonderful – she is so strong willed and I love this! I want to ensure I keep this spirit in her and I know I have the tools from RIE to help me with this. But really she is the one teaching me the most every day! I am in awe of my little person!
    In response to Alice, I am in the UK and am keen to know about RIE here – perhaps we can connect and share our resources to see what we can find?
    Best wishes to you both xx

  22. Try Sarah Ockwell Smith’s Gentle Parentimg group for a UK perspective.

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