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The Barn. See also: Sharing

Recently, the girls got in the mail their Christmas presents from my Aunt. She sent Abigail this awesome Unicorn Cloud Pet and she sent Miss Mabel the Fisher Price Farm Set. Pictured below:

This was really the first time that Mabel has gotten her own toy- something completely different from what Abigail got, and frankly, something that Abigail thought was awesome and wanted to play with too.

Except, it wasn’t her Christmas present.

So, this is actually a kind of unusual ask for advice/help type blog post!

How do you handle sharing between siblings?

Because at first I was letting them play together and oh yay how cute! But, quickly, Abigail was trading out the toys from Mabel’s hands(in true big sister style) for crappy little toys instead.

Or, perhaps a bottle of vaseline that was close by.

So, here’s the thing. Mabel could seriously not care less at this point. She was just as happy to nom on a bottle of petroleum jelly as she was a FP horse(#winning). But one of the biggest aspects of my personality craves justice and fairness. And it drives me absolutely bonkers watching her getting tricked out of playing with HER toys by a smarter and bigger sister.

I also don’t want to set the precedent that Abigail can just railroad her way into playing with what she wants just because she can and that some things aren’t hers…..buttttttt we also promote sharing everything that we have. SO, how do I reconcile that?

And basically, how do I best prevent having to be a toy referee for the rest of my life? Because I know full well that Mabel won’t be happy with a bottle of petroleum jelly for much longer.

I’m not kidding you, one evening I left to go switch the laundry and came back to Mabel sitting with a COMPLETELY EMPTY BARN(not that she even cared). Abigail had taken every single piece of farm Grinch style to play with off somewhere else. So I asked her if she would give her sister ONE animal to play with, and she seriously didn’t want to do it! She was offering up all sorts of other toys she could give her instead. Reluctantly she gave her one piece…..and that’s what brings me here.

So, advice? Anyone? 

But, PS. Aren’t they so stinking cute, tho?

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  1. Ask if Mabel can play with Miss A's very special seahorse when she decides to take over farm town. She may realize that the seahorse is her very very special toy and she doesn't want to share. It could prompt the discussion of sharing? Or (even tho I still play with Little People and I am 34) you could tell Abigail that she has a lot of college age appropriate toys?? That's all I cold think of. I know my sister and I used to fight with toys but we were only 15 months apart. My mom would take the toys away and my dad would say don't call me until there's blood 😉
    So in reality I don't know or remember how to do it the right way. Good luck lady!

  2. Ummmmm – NO advice, but I will be reading to get it! Waverly is the EXACT same way, and Avalon is the EXACT same way. She so graciously offers her another random toy (like a spoon) while she plays with her baby toys that all of the sudden have become the greatest thing ever to her. No big deal now, but will definitely be one soon when Avalon understands what the hell is going on! 😉

  3. Well – zero advice on this end. But, personal request: can you do a follow up post with others advice? I'm positive I'll be needing some pro tips in the very near future.

  4. My girls are 3.5 and 2 and we've been dealing with this INTENSELY for the last year. My mantra is "if you can't share it, you can't have it." It tends to leave my older one frustrated, but she needs to learn to share somehow. I still do have to step in and referee sometimes, but mostly I can just say, "Gabby, if you can't share it…" and she will hand it over to her sister. Good luck!

  5. Hahaha, grinch style! We struggle with this all of the time. I try to stay consistent that Cam can play with Louise's toys WITH her, but he can't take them from her. It's hard, though, when Louise grabs one of Cam's toys and put is in her mouth! He totally throws it in my face that she took it from him! Ha! I do agree that it doesn't matter now, because Louise would rather chew on my iPhone, but I think it will matter in a year or so. I like Nicole's advice – I remember parents saying that to kids I used to babysit.

  6. Not a mom, but I nannied for so many years that I can't even count the number of times I had to toy referee lol. We used to set timers: If you pick up a toy that isn't "yours" (there were of course "house toys" that all siblings could play with) then we set a timer for 15-20 minutes and then you were done and had to find another item to play with – which could not be something your sibling already had in their hands! Then again, these kids were all older and would lose their sh*t (unlike Mabes) if you grinched their stuff, but if you set the precedent of the timer now, maybe Abigail will continue to respect it in the future??? Who knows haha! #notamom 😛

  7. We have this issue too. K could care less- but lex tends to want whatever her sister wants. We make lex ask k to play with whatever toy she's holding- obviously k doesn't answer. But I want to set it up for when she CAN answer. And we do the timer thing (but for like a minute. Because attention spans). And I make sure we 100% treat lex's toys and k's toys the same. So if k wants what lex has its the same rules. No clue if we're doing it right? But I feel like we're doing SOMETHING 😉

  8. Yep, toy referee feels like my full-time job lately. Arden is just like Abigail, but the last couple months Nash has started to get TICKED! He screams and holds on for dear life and someone always ends up getting hurt. I like the "if you can't share it, you can't have it" idea above…and asking permission is one we try to use too. If you find the magic trick please let me know!!

  9. This has got to be one of the most challenging things about parenting!!! I've struggled for a while as to why I am so possessive over things when it comes to my sister (she's older) and I finally was able to figure it out in October…she still just acts like EVERYTHING is hers and she can dictate how it gets used. I have no problem Sharon g with my friends or Thomas but I just can't stand it when she just takes things from me. I have no advice for you except that you make Abigail ask Mabel if she can have a toy and then maybe Abigail only gets one of the farm animals??? Wish I could help more, but that's what I do with Ellie and the kids I nanny.

  10. Oh my goodness – Mabel's face in that first picture. Love. And oh the sharing . Oliver got some toys for Christmas and Emerson does exactly what Abigail does. If he wants one of Oliver's toys, he'll just take it and play with it – even if Oliver was playing with it. I've turned my attention to something else for a minute [or less] a few times and looked back to see Oliver empty handed and a gleeful Emerson running around with the toy Oliver was just playing with, along with every other single block of his. And like Mabel, Oliver could care less right now, but I know that day is coming to end very soon. Like you I want to promote sharing and fairness, and I want Oliver to be able to play with his toys with out coaxing Emerson to give him his toys back. Since I'm basically always around them, I watch what they're both doing and usually Emerson is pretty good about bringing toys to Oliver if I ask him to. When he's tried taking toys from him, I tell him that he has to wait his turn – Oliver is playing with it, but he can watch if he wants to. Sometimes he'll hang out and watch and wait with eager eyes for the second Oliver drops said toy. Sometimes he'll get bored and play with something else. If I catch him taking a toy from Oliver, I'll sometimes take one of his toys or books and give it to Oliver, he doesn't like that, so they end up trading back. And sometimes I tell Emerson he can play with one or two of Oliver's toys, but he has to let Oliver play with the rest. I think it just depends on the situation and it is still a lot of mediating, but it is helping as it is something we work on a lot. In general Emerson has gotten better about not taking Oliver's toys. I don't know if any of that will be helpful to you, but I hope Abigail learns how to not take her sister's toys all the time – soon! 🙂

  11. This isn't my personal experience since my second isn't here yet, but I remember this happening a lot with my brother and I when we were little. My parents were great about encouraging sharing, but we weren't expected to share our special toys if the other sibling, that it didn't belong to, wasn't playing nicely. Say if my brother got a birthday or Christmas gift and I was trying to hog it my mom would explain to me that it was his present and I needed to find something else to play with if I wasn't going to play nicely.

  12. I've been handling sibling sharing just like I would friend sharing. I remind Liam that we don't take things from Finn just like we don't take things from friends. Finn doesn't really care yet either, but at least the language I am using now will be the same stuff I'll be saying when he does. Hopefully that makes sense.

  13. oh SUCH a good topic!! i have been thinking about this myself recently!! i remember all too well that i totally reigned over my siblings. they had to knock on my door, but i could walk right into their rooms any time, haha. but on the flip side, i was super territorial because my brother in particular would just get in to my stuff like crazy because he was a curious little boy and it drove me nuts! i have been super aware of the sharing developing between my two lately and i am nervous!!

  14. Yessss. No advice but I feel your pain! With the exact same barn set, too! G rips the horse from Leighton's hands seventeen times a day which leaves the little one having a full-on meltdown. I try to remind Gracyn to give her another toy to play with before taking it away but it clearly doesn't always work. Hang in there mama!

  15. wellll i don't have much advice because i'm not a mother.. but, as 1 of 3 kids, even though my siblings are boys, we had a lot of fights over toys growing up. my mum always did a timer type thing, or she would let the kid who had the toy stolen choose another toy of the thief's, if that makes sense. we were very close in age though, so there was rarely a situation where the older kid took advantage of the younger kid like Abigail is doing to Mabel (not in a mean way, but in a Mabel is happy with a jar of vaseline way). good luck!

  16. If my boys are fighting over something, we usually say each boy gets it for two minutes. Generally, one boy loses interest before the two minutes are up anyway, so it works nicely! I've also taken away toys that they can't seem to share, but my husband doesn't like that option because "it doesn't teach them anything about sharing and they need to learn to take turns." I get his point so I really try to avoid taking things away.

  17. Ohmygosh!! This!!! This is my life!!! I was cleaning Lily’s room this weekend and found all kinds of different stashes of random toys that she has “taken” from Ben’s room. She loves to play with him but she also loves to bogart the entire situation and it just makes me so conflicted at times. I want her to share and be fair but I also don’t want to continuously nag her and make her feel like she is the odd one out. (We are struggling with jealously right now in a big way). So yea…I feel ya girlfriend.

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