Should Kids Be Forced to Share Toys? Ask Mrs Manners

Cynthia Dermody

sharing toys

Photo by asukarbebe

The toddler years are the perfect age to start teaching your kids manners and good habits. And MrsManners aka: Angela Pitrie, owner of the CM group Manners for the Modern Family and, is here to help.

Dear MrsManners,

My 15 month old daughter isn't allowed to play with toys belonging to my babysitter's children. Is this a bad environment for her?

The babysitter's children are 3 and 4 years old. It's not a formal, licensed day care; she's a friend of a friend and she seems to be very good to my baby. She keeps her safe and feeds her well.

But the older kids are territorial about everything in their house, and are always taking things away from my daughter's hands whenever she picks up something -- books, magazines, remote controls, even toys.

The babysitter gently dissuades her kids, but she doesn't enforce a rule for every child to follow. I suggested she set up an area for play, but she hasn't done it yet. I'm concerned it's bad for my baby to be at a place where she doesn't know what is allowed to touch, and when she picks up something it will be taken away. How do I broach the subject with my day care provider? -- PeanutJordanMom

MrsManners says:

You are paying this woman to care for your child, and even though it's not a formal program you have every right to speak with her on a professional level about your child's care and and education. Because of the amount of time she spends there, you should essentially think about it as co-parenting. The first thing I would do is quarterly meetings or parent conferences.

Then, take a look at some of the preschools and see what they do on a daily basis with their toddlers. You will find they all do rather similar things developmentally speaking. It is reasonable to expect the same type of developmental work from your daycare provider.

Once you have assembled a clear list of priorities for your daughter, set a meeting date and lay out your plan. If she isn't on board, then you may want to consider finding a new caregiver. Your daughter deserves the best and there is no reason why she can't have it!

Hopefully, sharing will be covered in your plan. Tell your daycare provider you want this skill emphasized.  Suggest that both she and her two children practice it with her. Let her know that your plan also includes understanding that not everything needs to be shared.

Bring one of your daughter's own toys, that is not to be shared with the other kids, with her when you drop her. Ask the babysitter if she will ask her own children to select a couple of items that they do not have to share, either. Then, technically speaking, everything else in the house should be available for sharing or taking turns. 

Her children are still quite young and the concept of sharing is a difficult one to master at their ages, but by implementing a program for your daughter, you will also be helping her children to learn an invaluable lesson that sounds like they really need. 

I love to hear what you have to say, so please weigh in on this topic in the comments area! You may also submit your questions to me by PMing MrsManners or leave it in comments. Thanks for reading. 

Angela W. Pitre, aka MrsManners

Past Ask Mrs Manners columns:

Winging the Pacifier

Should Parents Say 'Thank You'?

Toddlers Eating Everything

Throwing-Obsessed Toddlers

Are You a Hypocrite?

Pushy Toddlers

Taming the Messy Eater

How to Have Well Behaved Toddlers

My Son Won't Stop Touching Other Moms' Breasts!

Is Shyness Impolite?

Stop Peer Pressure Early

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