In the process of learning to get along with others, a child will navigate the world of giving, taking and sharing. Sometimes a youngster sees something in another child’s hands and feels he must have it. The ensuing situation probably involves some struggling and yelling as “the taker” tries to wrest the toy free from the other child’s unwilling hands. Teach skills for getting along and sharing to minimize this behavior.
Supervise your child carefully and diligently to stop her from taking toys from other children. With careful supervision, you will likely get a feel for those situations when your child zeroes in on a toy and decides to take it.
Step in when you discern that a toy tussle is about to occur. Remain calm and establish eye contact with your youngster to get her attention. You might say, “I can see you think that doll would be fun to play with. Let’s wait for a turn, though. I think Lydia is still playing with it.” If necessary, intervene in a physical tug-of-war over the toy by getting control of the toy and returning it to the child who was playing with it first.
Model the proper way to ask for a turn with a toy, suggests the Ask Dr. Sears website. Tell your child, “Let’s ask Lydia if you can have a turn when she’s done playing with the doll. I bet she’ll share with you.” Show your child how to ask the other child politely for a turn by saying, “May Josh play with that doll when you’re finished? I think he would like to play.”
Distract your child away from the coveted toy by finding something else for him to do or a special toy to play with while he waits for the toy, suggests psychologist Laura Markham, with the Aha! Parenting website. It’s possible that in the process of distracting your youngster, he becomes so focused on the new item or activity that he forgets the desired toy.
Institute a time-out rule for a child who won’t stop taking toys from others, suggests former extension specialist Valya Telep, with the Virginia Cooperative Extension website. Warn your child ahead of time that if she won’t listen to your directives to play nicely and share without taking toys, that she will need to take a time-out to help her remember the rule. The next time a similar situation occurs, escort her to a quiet spot where she can sit for up to five minutes. The consistent consequence of a time-out for sharing problems can discourage taking toys and help a child remember to share nicely.