The Rules for Sharing, According to Toddlers

Can you imagine how overwhelming you would feel if you had to defend all your possessions?  In a toddler’s mind, if someone else is holding their beloved teddy bear, it no longer belongs to them, and they don’t know if they’re ever going to get it back!

Possession for toddlers means holding it, or touching it.  To them, everything really is ‘MINE’!


The Toddler’s Rules of Ownership Poem About Sharing

If I want it,
IT’S MINE!

If I give it to you and change my mind later,
IT’S MINE!

If I can take it away from you,
IT’S MINE!

If it’s mine it will never belong to anybody else,
No matter what.
If we are building something together,
All the pieces are mine!

If it looks just like mine,
IT’S MINE!

If it’s broken,
IT’S YOURS!

Download a pdf printable of the Toddler’s Rules of Possession.

It’s a Funny Poem, But Sharing is Hard. Even for Grownups.

We laugh at a toddler’s struggle to share. But in reality, grown-ups don’t really share either!  You probably don’t share your car, or clothes, or beloved stuffed animals with your friends either.

What we really mean by sharing is teaching children about social skills like how to take turns, to delay gratification, and to be kind.

If it really is theirs, never force a child to share.  Instead, focus on teaching them how to have empathy for those around them.  Say things like, “It looks like Jackson is really interested in your train.  Maybe he really like trains,too.  Would you like to show him how your train works when you are finished playing?”

If your child doesn’t take the hint, keep trying.  But understand, MINE!  and NO are totally valid rules of possession, even in adulthood!

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