A toddler’s possession rules are simple and easy to follow (so they think):
- If they touch something, it’s theirs
- If they once touched something, it’s theirs
- If they are holding onto something, it’s theirs
- If they have their eye on something and are on their way to get it, it’s theirs
If someone tries to take away ‘their’ item or use ‘their’ item, all hell will break loose and a tantrum will then ensue.
My daughter, Dublin, uses small colorful bowls to eat snacks out of, so she’s come to know these bowls as hers. She wouldn’t use any other type of bowl other than those in specific. My youngest sister Jil came down to visit, bringing her four year old daughter, JK, along with her. She’s been trying to spend a lot of time with us as her husband’s Air Force job will be relocating them to Georgia in a week or so. JK wanted something to snack on and my grandma gave her some cheese puffs.
About twenty minutes later I had to pick my daughter up from daycare, she was in a happy mood until I brought her home. We weren’t in the door five minutes when she started crying. I didn’t know what was wrong. Dublin walked up to JK and knocked the bowl out of her hand, JK looks at Dublin and says politely and quietly, “I don’t like you.” Jil comes walking briskly from the office and tells JK calmly, that wasn’t nice. I told Jil it’s okay, that she had Dublin’s bowl and she didn’t know it. I’ll just get JK a different bowl to use. I told Dublin that it wasn’t nice to do that to JK.
Usually Dublin shares, but only when she feels like sharing. As soon as you take something away without asking politely if you can have it, this upsets her. Jil and I walked back to the office several minutes later and laugh about it. She told me that JK was the same way. Something they pick up in daycare.
A toddler has one simple rule: It’s mine, no you can’t have it…(or if it’s my daughter) if you ask nicely or replace it with something I might want you can have it.