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Fodder Up!: Teaching Your Toddler to Share

If there's one thing you'll never have to teach a toddler it's how to defend their property from encroachers.  Anyone who has ever attempted to take candy from a baby will tell you the idea that possession is nine tenths of the law isn't learned, it's inborn. And it doesn't take an elaborate psychological experiment to test this theory- all you need is an empty room, two toddlers, and a single, unclaimed toy. Ever watch the Ultimate Fighting Championship? You think that's ugly, just watch two kids fight it out for who gets to walk out of the ring with Tickle Me Elmo? I don't know about you, but watching 200lb adult males beat the crap out of each other seems a whole lot more civilized than the biting and slapping, kicking and eye gauging that goes on between two kids defending their individual claims to a toy. Hell, I'd sooner stick my hand out to break up a dog fight than risk the loss of a limb trying to take a toy away from a determined child. Talk about being "possessed."

Boys? Girls? It doesn't matter. Being left alone in a room with two toddlers battling over toys is like being a referee in a fight to the death. It's like the ultimate Kumate between Jean Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal, and unless you know how to intervene, someone's going to get hurt. And if your not willing to teach your child the concept of fair play somebody else will, and learning it on the playground from a much larger kid who isn't so concerned about your kid's safety isn't the way to go (I know).

So, while it may be cute to watch your little guy get possessive about anything and everything from a toy, to a chair, to a your wife's cell phone, it's not so cute to pick your ten-year-old up from school after getting suspended for stealing another kid's lunch (so my Mom tells me). So it's better to step up, step in and tell your kid to step off as you teach him the most important lesson a father will ever impart upon a child - the lesson of sharing.

In the grand scheme of life, might is NOT right, greed is NOT good (sorry Gordon Gekko), and no possession will ever replace the value of a good friend. Yes, the world is full of bullies, and there will come a day when your child will need to defend his claim to what is rightfully his, but that's what lawyers are for. Fathers are for teaching children what's right and what's wrong (and a healthy respect for authority never hurts either). So don't let your child dictate the terms of ownership. Mediate.

Here's a crash course on sharing:

And the world is once again a happy place...

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Reader Comments (2)

Saw your post on Linkedin and had to comment...hope it's ok, as I am a mom, not a dad. :) Loved your post!

Helping young children learn about sharing is such a crucial life lesson. Of course we don't want our children to be pushed around...nor do we want them to be doing the pushing. So how to strike that perfect balance? I'd say first by being a great role model...let children see us putting more emphasis on the people...and less on the possessions. Second, make sure we respect a young child's space and valuables. And third, never forget that as the parents, we are obligated to interfere, interrupt or interface as necessary to keep all children safe.
Just my thoughts...on a very important topic that ties in with bullying in school and interpersonal relationships down the road.

December 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterviviankirkfield

Vivian welcome and thank you for your very thoughtful post. And no, this isn't a men's only blog- it is open to anybody that appreciates an open and honest male perspective on first-time parenthood, and we are always open to any help we can get. So again, thank you for comments. Bullying is a very hot topic right now and any tips on how to prevent this from continuing like this in to the next generation are greatly appreciated. - Adam

December 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFodder 4 Fathers

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