Teaching Siblings About Sharing Toys and Stuff

What's Covered

It’s disappointing when you gave food or a toy to a kid, and then you pretend to ask for a portion of it or borrow it, but he won’t let you have it. The sweet and adorable kid a while ago went off suddenly, and a selfish-being possessed him.

It is common for kids to be possessive with toys or stuff, even if they don’t own it. Here’s the catch, will you believe there’s a way to break this mainstream? Keep reading then.

Why Are Kids Possessive? The All Mine Edition

You may found it irritating, but it is entirely normal for kids to be possessive with things, especially with their toys. It is part of their development process. They are developing their sense of being and independence.

Kids measure “power” and “control” by the things they own, even if it’s just a toy! Your kids will always have a different view of things. Sharing as of this moment in their life is none of their concern. Whether you like it or not, they will always think of themselves first before anything or anyone.

Have you observed your kid whenever there’s a family beach outing? Your kids will not mind bringing their bath towels but will never forget to bring their favorite toys with them. It is because, at this stage, they build a “tie” with the things they hold dear to them. Such is the by-product of their sense of being and as an individual.

The possessiveness of kids with their toys or stuff will go deeper as they develop personally. They learn to give value to the things they consider useful or valuable to them. Thus, transforming possessiveness to a higher level of attachment to it. 

This high level of attachment is the strong desire of a kid to be near to a specific figure in which they find security and comfort[1]. It is why kids find it hard to share or let go of their toys or stuff. They find a kids-based concept of comfort and security in the things they value. You may never know what goes around in the mind of your child. Kids can be so creative and imaginative that they consider such to be their comfort and security.

Here’s a book that you can read on and help you understand further your child’s way of thinking and behavior. In this book, you will learn the art of discipline, and transforming their negative behavior as an opportunity for growth.

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No-Drama Discipline
An awesome book for understanding your child in terms of how they perceive things and why they feel the way they are. You will also learn how to deal with misbehavior without having to resort to punishment.

Is it normal for siblings to be disagreeable with each other?

Siblings are hard to handle, especially if they don’t get along with each other. You just left them to do the dishes, and after a few minutes, you hear their argument. Each one felt right about their reasoning and circumstances. No one would want to give way to make it up with each other. It’s a chaotic home environment not just for you but for everyone in the household.

I, for myself, have siblings, and I lost count of how many times we argue when we were young. We fight over a toy, foodstuff, and other things that a kid would want to have. Is this normal? Is this something you can change? Or is it what it is?

Sibling conflict can happen from time to time. Your kids have distinct personalities. It is one cause why your kids don’t get along with each other or have a different take on things. Despite this circumstance, siblings conflict is an essential part of sibling-relationship as it is a part of sibling interaction; it is a source of emotional support, affection, and companionship[2]. Siblings’ conflict may be chaotic, but it is a primary part of sibling relationships and interaction.

You can read this number 1 New York best-selling book to guide you in reducing siblings’ conflicts and promoting healthy relationships among them. It will help you figure out how you can make your siblings can live together harmoniously and peacefully.

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Siblings Without Rivalry
A perfect book for helping your children to get along, encourage collaboration and lessen sibling rivalry. It provides practical tools in coping up with conflict between and among siblings.

Why are older siblings mean to younger ones?

A child who got used to being the only child gets all the attention, love, and care from his parents, grandparents, relatives, and parents’ friends. He can demand whatever he wants. He can run to his grandfather and tenderly ask for a toy or food. As long as his parents perceive it is appropriate for him to have that something, he can have it.

But things will change if a sibling will come into existence. From being the only child to an elder brother or sister, things will be different this time. Your child is undergoing an adjustment process, and it might not go well with him if not properly guided. He can have the wrong understanding and misconception while they are growing.

Have a heartfelt talk with your oldest kid, and make him understand why in some situations, you need to prioritize his baby brother. Create the correct understanding in his mind; otherwise, he will feel jealousy and resentment towards his younger sibling. The importance of creating the right mindset for your child will lead to a better sibling relationship.

Based on a study, older siblings enhance the empathetic attitude of their younger siblings[3]. You can materialize this study’s result by teaching your oldest kid to be an example, a role model to his younger siblings. For instance, you instruct him to share his candies or food with his younger sibling. You are hitting two targets with one shot in this scenario.

First, you strike out the misinterpretation your oldest kid has. Jealousy can lead to sibling rivalry, which strains their sibling relationship. When you make him understand that you still love him or care for him, even if he has a sibling already, it is an enormous impact on their being. Second, you are instilling proper values and conduct to your younger ones by making your eldest one an example. When you foster this kind of home environment, it gives you the confidence they will have a healthy sibling relationship in the long run.

Here’s a book you can read to help you grow a loving, kind, and compassionate child. It will also help you evaluate your parenting approach when siblings have the wrong understanding of your intentions towards them.

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Raising Good Humans
A perfect book for fostering a more loving, caring and positive home environment for your children. It will guide you also on how to deal with your reactive tendencies as a parent when things at home get out of control.

The Concept of Sibling Love

When my nieces were fighting over something, their parents intervene by hearing both sides. They assist each one to understand the side of the other end and help them realize their mistakes. At the end of the talk, when everything is clear, their parents would say, “okay, say sorry to each other.” Then the kids would do the same and hug each other as a sign of reconciliation. The act of hugging each other is imprinted on their system when their parents say, “love, love.” Sometimes, when the argument seems so deep, when they reconcile, the kids would fall into tears as they realize their mistakes and understand their other sibling.

Such a sight is wonderful if parents would foster such an environment at home. When your kids were born, they knew nothing about love except when you let them feel it. Likewise, the concept of sibling love can be introduced to your kids when you show it to them and let them experience it.

What to do when siblings don’t like each other?

It is undeniable that your children are distinct from one another. They may perceive things differently from their other sibling. Such differences can lead to misunderstanding and conflict between and among your kids. What would you do if your kids have a tom and jerry relationship?

When siblings have conflicts, it can either be a constructive or destructive one depending on the situation[4]. It is a constructive conflict when your kids make their resolution to the problem by either negotiating with each other, bargaining of stuff, brainstorming, or problem-solving together. Such acts foster interpersonal growth.

A destructive type of conflict entails negative behaviors such as an inappropriate verbal or physical act towards his other sibling or taking advantage. These acts impede the potential and optimal growth of your child. As a parent, you need to distinguish the type of conflict your kids have so you can deal with it successfully.

To answer what you should do when your kids don’t like each other, determine the root cause of such aversion. Only then that you’ll be able to help your kids understand each other and let them know the concept of sibling love.

My nieces differ from each other. One is a gentle type of kid, while the younger one is very masculine in approach. Every time they argued, the younger one seems to dominate. Their parents step in and talk things over to them to mitigate the effects of destructive conflict. The primary goal is to prevent such unfriendly and damaging home environment relationships.

This book can be of great help in understanding your kids at times when they dislike each other. It will help you solve most of your dilemmas, as a parent, in such a situation.

Should you intervene when your kids argue?

Sometimes parents let their children resolve their conflict and misunderstanding. Kids learn to negotiate and make resolutions themselves, which is a good thing. However, sometimes things get out of control, and parent intervention is necessary.

In a worst-case scenario, siblings’ conflict can reach a verbal and physical fight. It is where the dilemma of parents gets even broader in scope. Such negative behaviors affect not only the physical but the emotional aspect as well of their children. A parent needs to weigh things down and contemplate things when dealing with such. A hint of agreeing with the other sibling could mean favoritism to the other kid and vice versa.

To address the concern of intervening in siblings’ conflict, parents should assess the “quality” of the dispute. Intervening without evaluating the situation means losing the opportunity for your child to learn fundamental conflict resolution abilities[5]. Giving your child the chance to learn such fundamentals will help them discover they can’t solve some things through fighting.

When you instill such mindset or thinking in your child, you won’t have to face a dreaded dilemma when left alone with their other sibling. It will help you become at ease and have more peace of mind. Parent intervention is best applied when sibling conflict fosters negative sibling relationships.

Other parents would prefer nonintervention during sibling conflict. Proponents of this theory believe that it can reduce sibling conflict by rewarding their children for cooperative behaviors and punish for adverse actions. There’s nothing wrong with this theory, but wouldn’t it be nicer to teach your kid with the right mindset concerning sibling conflict? Your child will learn how to deal with conflict with their siblings and other people outside the home.

You can read the book below to help you facilitate the proper mental conditioning and setting with your children regarding sibling conflict.

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Parenting Toolbox
An awesome book for parents who desire to improve the positive environment at home and reduce daily fight scene among your kids. It is also helpful in handling behavioral problems with your kids.

Teaching your kids to respect each other

One of the best things that you can teach your child is the concept of respect for people. It goes a long way, even when they grow old. People who know how to respect the people around them build the notion that they are raised well and have a good upbringing at home. Almost everything that a person can learn in his lifetime starts at home. That is why the home environment plays a crucial role in one’s aspiration, behavior, and character as a person.

How do you teach your kids to respect other individuals, especially those they spend most of the time with — their siblings? The sibling relationship can be a determinant of how your child will handle other relationships in the future with their partner, friends, and individuals they will meet along the way[6]. As early as rearing years, it is best to develop a good sibling relationship, and one way of building it is through respect for each other.

To listen when someone is talking is one way of showing respect. You can start improving this skill of your child. When they know how to listen to others, especially with their siblings, they will learn how to sympathize with them, allowing them to see things from a new perspective. When your kids know how to listen to each other, they can easily connect and understand each other.

You can also teach your kids to respect their siblings’ space and belongings. When they know how to ask permission first before invading their personal space or things, you can expect they will do the same to other persons. Your kids have a sense of individuality, and it is essential to respect this part of their being. Taking over their space or things right away or without them knowing will only fuel conflict among your kids, and no parents would want that.

Remember, the focal point of teaching your kids to respect their siblings is treating them the way they would want to be treated by their siblings. Instilling this mindset will remind them to show kindness, care, concern, and love to their other siblings. Here’s a book you can read to help you further teach your kids how to show respect.

Body Boundaries, Consent and Respect
An awesome book for teaching and guiding your kids how to respect personal boundaries of other people. It also discusses the importance of knowing the concept of success and its implication on the later part of your child’s life.

The Concept of Sharing

It is easier to explain the concept of sharing to your kids when you have established the idea of love to their mindset. Children find it hard to let their things go when they don’t have sympathy for other kids and their siblings. They perceive that once someone is going to use their belongings, they won’t have the chance of using them again. Pushing your kids to let other kids borrow their toys without the proper notion of sharing will only cause them to cling more to their toys rather than share them. The question right now is, how will you explain to your kids how to share?

Let Your Kid Know What’s It Called

Kids, especially those in toddler years, only care for what they feel, think and own. Your kids enclose themselves in this “me” world, and sharing is a foreign thing for them. They don’t know what we call it, or even if they know it, they find it hard to do if not properly guided. How do you let your kid know about sharing?

Learning for kids will be much easier if they know what their parents call a thing or act. Naming it first will help your child categorize such in the most helpful way[7]. When they know you call it sharing, they will recognize it right away when you said it to them, even in public places. The word share will serve as a triggering force to them to do such towards their siblings or other kids.

Below is a multi-award-winning toy that you can use to introduce to your child the concept of sharing. Visuals can better facilitate learning, especially for kids. It will catch their attention and interest as you go along. Kids have a short attention span. That is why you have to keep them at a very engaging and fun way of learning.

Save Spend Share Educational Toy Bank
Though it is a toy for responsible money management, it is also a perfect toy for introducing the concept of sharing. It will also hone your kids’ financial skills which are very useful when he grows old. What a way to educate your child!

Set Yourself as an Example to your Kids

To know something without putting it into application makes the learning process to be incomplete. We can say the same for your child the moment you introduced the concept of sharing with them. The early years are so essential for a child as this lays the core foundation of his belief, attitude, and character as a person.

How your child will progress in putting to action his learning on how to share is a matter of showing them how to do it. At this stage, most of the things they learn come from what they saw in you as their parent. When you set yourself as an example to them on how to share, it will also help them adopt the same practices.

Your kids are likely to show the same act of sharing with their siblings, to your relatives, and other people when you expose them to such an environment. Based on research, kids who show proactive traits like sharing exhibit better academic achievement and popularity outcomes[8]. See where teaching your kids how to share goes a long way for their future.

At first, you can’t expect your child to share right away his toys or other belongings. Don’t push your child so hard to do so. Let them still feel that you respect their ownership of certain things. . However, keep on being an example for your kids on how to share until they are ready to share some of their stuff.

To further help your child understand the act of sharing, here’s a toy you can use to show such.

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Step and Play Piano
A perfect toy for demonstrating what is sharing all about. You can use this toy to team up with either sibling and teach them that games are better enjoyed when shared with someone. You can team up with them interchangeably until such time that your kids will team up with each other. By doing so, you are not only teaching about sharing but also cooperation.

Compliment Your Child

Nothing can motivate you more than being complimented for doing the right thing. It helps you know that you’re on the right track and encourages you to continue doing the same. Adults felt this way towards their work or in any relationship they have.

An identical impact can have on your child when you compliment them by the things they accomplish. Big or small accomplishments, when recognized, help your child to know how you perceive them. Praising your child is the easiest way of encouraging your child to practice sharing. Kids felt a high self-confidence and a sense of being capable of doing things independently and correctly.

Kids are more likely to continue doing such acts when someone they look up to, which is you as their parent, recognizes their good deeds. Your words and actions are valuable for them and have an enormous impact on their development. They can read and feel it by the tone of your voice and your body language. Once you reinforce their act of sharing with words of compliment and encouragement, you strengthen your child’s understanding of sharing.

Here’s a book you can read to teach your child the importance of words. Every word from you has a corresponding weight on their end. You might as well know the importance of giving affirmations, compliments, and encouragement to your child.

Words of Affirmations from Parents
A perfect book to know the importance of complimenting your child. It will help you build your child’s self-confidence and esteem through your words. You can also use this as a reference in maintaining an interactive atmosphere at home.

How to stop your kids from fighting over toys?

Sometimes, your kids can annoy you for fighting over the same toy when there are tons of other toys around them. You may think they could have picked a different toy to play with since there are lots of them available. The fight could range from verbal to physical brawl; it is so chaotic. If this is the surrounding your kids are used to be with, they will probably exhibit the same behavior even in public places with other kids.

Developing Negotiation Skills

One way of preventing your kids from fighting over toys is to develop their negotiation skills. Your kid is not supposed to immediately grab the toy from the hands of another kid or their sibling. Can you picture out the crying episode of the kid with their toy stolen? Kids differ in how they react when they felt another kid treats them unjustly. Some will cry and get wild uncontrollably, while others will get physical right away. Either way, no parent would want to deal with such a situation.

The negotiation skill of your child is vital, as it shows pro-social behavior. As a parent, you play a role in developing this kind of pro-social behavior of your child, although other factors can influence your child’s pro-social development[9]. Kids who show such conduct are likely to get along with other kids smoothly. They get to experience the joy of sharing, playing, and knowing other kids.

To develop your kids’ negotiation skills, you can teach them to communicate their needs or wants to the concerned person. It can either be other kids, their siblings, or their friends. This way, it will encourage the atmosphere of taking turns. At first, it won’t be easy; that’s why your presence is needed to guide your child. For instance, you can mention to him, “When your baby brother is all done with the toy sword, you can also play with it. Ask him if you can play with it when he’s done.”

Know when to intervene if the kids are having a hard time negotiating with each other. Allow your kids first to figure things out on their own. In this scenario, both kids will learn how to communicate with each other. If things get rough, intervene. Your guidance as a parent counts the most to instill values and shape the character of your child. The environment you created at home will be their training ground to becoming a wonderful child and adult in the future.

Below is a best-selling book that you can read to help you develop your child’s negotiation skills.

Practicing the Culture of Barter

Another way of preventing your kids from fighting over toys is to encourage the practice of barter. It is common for kids to find it hard to let go of their toys, especially if it is something that they like the most. The question now is, how will you encourage your children to practice such at home?

According to a study, children create their informal market through the barter system of toys when they want to get new items from other children[10]. Children will also assess the “value” of the toy they want to barter as the toy they want to get. It is the same with the other kid on the receiving end. Based on this study, the practice of barter is already somehow innate to children. It is a matter of bringing it out from them.

When your kid grabs toys from his other siblings, teach him to replace them with something “acceptable” to his other sibling. In this way, your kids will not only practice barter, but it will also hone their respect for each other. It will help build a better relationship between and among your kids.

Barter will also help your child to realize that he needs to share his toys with his siblings or other kids to play with them. Such will deepen their understanding of sharing and will enhance their pro-social behavior. When he gets used to this practice in the rearing years, he will show the same ability even in public places with other kids.

Here’s a best-selling book you read to guide your children in practicing the culture of barter. It is an interactive way of learning for your kids at home.

Sale
Time to Share
A perfect book for a fun way of learning how to share. It will help you foster an encouraging atmosphere at home when your child finds it hard to share his toys.

Why Should I Teach my Child to Share?

Let me start with the statement, do not force your child to share. When you coerce your child to share, it will only cause feelings of unfair treatment and resentment towards you and to whom they should share. Children, especially during the early years of growth, will find it hard to understand what is sharing and why it is beneficial. They can be very possessive with their stuff because they view it with a high value as an adult who values investments.

Given such circumstances, continue fostering an environment that encourages sharing. Assess how your child will react and act when he’s with his other siblings or kids. Know his tendencies and impulses in sharing. It will help you determine what kind of guidance you should give your child.

Gradually, your child will learn and experience the joy of sharing. Keep on engaging with them, especially in their free time. Build a connection so you won’t have a hard time connecting to them about sharing. It will strengthen your relationship with them, which will eventually make you grow a happy and loving kid. Based on a study, 98% of the respondents’ parents who spend time with their child in their free time resulted in a happy child.

Teaching your child to share will develop their pro-social skills. It will build strong and healthy relationships with you, their siblings, friends, relatives, and other people. Another benefit of teaching your child to share is that it contributes to his holistic development and well-being. When you practiced such in the early years, it will come a long way when they become adults and parents themselves.

Final Thoughts

To instill good values in your child can be strenuous and challenging most of the time. Teaching your kids to share is no exception; it can be one of the most grueling responsibilities of a parent. However, perceive things on a new and vast horizon. What’s in it for me? What’s in it for my child? There is a more valuable and deeper meaning to life when your child knows how to share. It reflects you as a parent and of significance to your child.


[1] Zeanah, Charles H., Lisa J. Berlin, and Neil W. Boris. “Practitioner review: Clinical applications of attachment theory and research for infants and young children.” Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 52.8 (2011): 819-833.

[2] Vandell, Deborah Lowe, and Mark Dixon Bailey. “Conflicts between siblings.” Conflict in child and adolescent development (1992): 242-269.

[3] Tucker, Corinna Jenkins, et al. “Older siblings as socializers of younger siblings’ empathy.” The Journal of Early Adolescence 19.2 (1999): 176-198.

[4] Rinaldi, Christina, and Nina Howe. “Siblings’ reports of conflict and the quality of their relationships.” Merrill-Palmer Quarterly (1982-) (1998): 404-422.

[5] Perlman, Michal, and Hildy S. Ross. “The benefits of parent intervention in children’s disputes: An examination of concurrent changes in children’s fighting styles.” Child development (1997): 690-700.

[6] McHale, Susan M., Kimberly A. Updegraff, and Shawn D. Whiteman. “Sibling relationships and influences in childhood and adolescence.” Journal of Marriage and Family 74.5 (2012): 913-930.

[7] Brown, Roger. “How shall a thing be called?.” Psychological review 65.1 (1958): 14.

[8] Sharman, Rachael. “Should we teach our children to share? Or let nature take its course?.” (2015

[9] Eisenberg, Nancy. “Prosocial behavior.” (2006).

[10] Yeh, Marie Angel. Cards, Creatures and Almost Anything: A Study of Children Trading. Diss. Kent State University, 2013.

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Author

Vivian Perry

Vivian Perry

Mother of 3 kids. Enjoy reading parenting books and studied child care degree. Vivian loves to learn and write about parenting tips and help her kids to grow positively with grit mindset.

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