Should I force my child to lend his toys?

As parents, we want to transmit to our children the values ​​of sharing and we especially do not want to make them selfish. But is it for all that necessary to push them to lend all that belongs to them?

Refusing to lend your toys, a classic of arguments

“I want to play with that”, “No, it’s mine, give it back to me …” And there is the drama. I often live this scene when my two little cousins ​​are together. Obviously, each of the respective parents intervenes to ask one to lend his toys and the other to ask him more nicely. Between cousins, between brothers and sisters, between young classmates in class … The situation is common and many parents are worried that their child will not be sharing. Sharing and generosity are among the important values ​​that we generally want to transmit. Obviously, in life, it’s not easy to have friends and social interactions if you don’t know how to share!

However, this mother wonders what to do next: “My 5-year-old son has a lot of toys. My 2-and-a-half-year-old daughter necessarily has a lot less because we are not going to redeem everything twice and she plays with them. his brother’s old and new toys, as he too likes to test his sister’s new toys. Except when suddenly, in a moment of rivalry, one or the other begins to assert ownership toys in question. There, it is the fight and the rivalries between brother and sister, the “it’s mine”, “I don’t want to lend it to you”, “if you don’t lend me your doll, I will not lend you my castle” are in the house. So I established a rule: we are siblings, we lend each other the toys so that everyone benefits. But then, am I right or should I leave them each with their toys, knowing that they share the same room, that we cannot afford to have everything in duplicate (and even if we did, Would it be a service for them to buy everything in duplicate?)? And when a friend comes to the house, can we tolerate that son or kitten starts to pull the play from the hands of the friend by saying “it’s mine, you leave it to me!” ? I can explain that when he goes to my boyfriend’s house, he lends him his toys.

The child needs to assert his individuality

Between 2 and 6 years old, children are often navelists. They find it difficult to consider the needs of others and only their wants count. So, as far as toys are concerned, they are theirs and point. The child feels safe in his universe and even needs to go through this self-centered phase. It helps him to structure his individual identity and to appropriate things, in order to then be able to give to others sincerely. This is completely normal in the development of the child and it does not indicate a lack of generosity or altruism. At the same time, this phase is associated with a phase of opposition , the famous phase of no, experienced by all children (and all parents). Again, this is a way to

Thus, with regard to sharing, as with many educational subjects, we must have realistic expectations according to the age of the child. “We expect a child who is still immature to behave in ways that are doesn’t always have as an adult. When you have a new pair of shoes, you like to be the first to wear them. Then you can lend them out when you ask, but it rarely occurs to anyone. ‘one to ask someone else to give up their new business right away, “said Clémence Prompsy , psychologist who founded the firm Kidz and Family in our podcast Jeu d’enfants. Moreover, according to our MagicNanny Jill Bird, “before 4 years old, a child does not really understand the meaning of the word. Learning to share can start around 5 or 6 years old, without expecting too much from our child.”

Do not force a child to lend all his toys

Our two education specialists are therefore fairly unanimous: we should not be alarmed if our child is not quick to lend his things. “If your child doesn’t want to share their most precious toys or the ones they just received, that’s okay,” confirms Jill Bird. Start by giving him time to discover a toy he has just received before asking him to share it. Then, for example, you can decide together which toys she wants to put away or hide before inviting friends or keep in her room so that she does not play with her brother or sister for the moment. In addition, set up toys that they agree to share in a common play space, such as the living room or playroom.

“You can mark your disapproval and make him be more generous. But before that, try to understand his emotions. Why does he not want to lend? You can also try to make him understand the emotions of the other child, to whom. he refused to lend, to see who he snatched a toy from his hands. You can ask him how he would feel in his place as well. But do not force him to do it and do not punish him, because sharing must become for him a spontaneous act, of his own free will. Encourage him instead by congratulating him when he agrees to part with an object. And set an example: if you show yourself generous, your child will follow you as a model “, suggests Clémence Prompsy.

How to teach your child to share?

Learning will not take place under duress, and will especially take place step by step. You can start by placing the children in a space large enough to play side by side. Then help your child to name what belongs to him (clothes, toys, bed, etc.), what belongs to his siblings and what belongs to everyone such as the living room, the television, a board game. You can then suggest games that can be played with two or more children, to show how having fun playing with other children. You can also give keys to your child to help them play with others: ” Would you like to play with me? “,” Can you lend me your ball? “,” It’s mine “,” It’s yours “, etc. You can also teach him to make exchanges: “I lend you my doll but can you lend me your figurine?”. You can then encourage him to lend and praise him when he does so without complaining: “I’m proud of you, see how happy your cousin looks to play with your car.” Little by little, your child will be able to show empathy, to understand what the other feels, and what he feels like good feelings to lend, with the recognition of the one to whom he lends and the pleasure that he may have felt.

Sylvie, one of our mothers, testifies: “With us, it is the rule of the loan: when one has finished playing with it, he lends to the other who wants it. On the highly coveted toys we must give a time after which we will lend, like “in 5 minutes” or “soon”. For “with friends”, we invite only if we are ready to lend. We cannot decently invite and forbid to touch anything So I remind everyone of the house rule if necessary, including the guests, but I insist more on mine of course, with as little comfort: ‘you know these toys will stay at home when the friends leave, you will find them just for you ‘”, she testifies. Here again, it will be necessary to adapt according to the age of the child,. When you take a toy from him, all he understands is that he doesn’t have it anymore. It is in the immediacy. Notions of the future and the past are foreign to him. Finally, if you have an argument over a toy, rather than stepping in and fixing it for the children, try to help the children find a solution on their own. You can offer them an alternative: “Do you want to ask him for another toy in exchange or would you prefer to lend him yours in 5 minutes?” He will be able to choose the option he prefers and gradually tend towards the desire to share on his own.