This Toy Is Mine!

Sharing is growing, but the little ones do not have the maturity to realize it. Inês Afonso Marques, clinical psychologist, teaches how to deal with the problem

This Toy Is Mine!

Two adorable little blond kid boys, twins playing with soft toys together in bed near Christmas tree with lights and illumination.Children enjoying xmas morning with gifts.

The songs, the decorations and the Christmas decorations that we are going through this time of year leave no doubts … It’s Christmas!The smiles hover in the faces and the glitter in the eyes.Ideas, emotions and dreams are shared.Christmas and sharing are two words and two concepts that go hand in hand.But then, if Christmas is for children and children usually do not like to share, how do you solve the problem?

Should we contradict them?Inês Afonso Marques, clinical psychologist and coordinator of the children’s youth team at the Psychology Workshop in Lisbon, teaches how to deal with the problem.Here are the strategies the specialist recommends:

– Accept the difficulty the child demonstrates in sharing

Children have difficulty sharing.Difficulty in sharing your space, your caregivers, your toys.Learning to share is a process.Something that is being built along the development, along with step, with the development of cognitive, emotional and social competences.

Children, because they find themselves in a process of discovery and differentiation between self and others or self and the world, tend to behave more egocentrically, to the eyes of adults.Since this difficulty is somewhat normative in terms of development, at an early age, perceiving and accepting it is a first step, so that parents and caregivers can encourage sharing and generosity according to the child’s development rhythms.

– Help your child develop his or her emotional intelligence

If I do not lend, what’s the problem?Because sharing implies empathizing, implies putting yourself in the other’s place and understanding the world from your point of view and because sharing is knowing how to communicate, needs and desires, fears and certainties, help the child to develop their emotional intelligence.Emotions play an important role in behavior and decisions.

Emotional intelligence begins to develop at birth.Early emotional ties arise when the mother or other primary caregiver satisfies, or helps meet, the child’s emotional needs.When there is exchange and sharing, affection and attention.

Effective use of emotions allows the child to gain more control over instinctive stress reactions, learns how to best communicate their emotional state, develops healthy relationships with family and friends, and is successful in school, work, and life.

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– Do not force the child to share but be a model

If I share, do you share?Although it is not always easy to accept, it is not a perfectly legitimate response for those who hear it and for those who observe it when they challenge us to share something that is ours and that we like very much.On the other hand, something that is done by obligation, in an imposed way, is something that will not appear in other situations in a natural, autonomous and with pleasure.

If I want to explain what is good to share, it is important, as an educator, that I share and show satisfaction in doing so.Adults, referral caregivers, are the child’s preferred models.So if the child grows up in a context where giving and sharing are present, it is likely that the child will be motivated to give and to share.

On a daily basis, be a role model for the child.Share your snack with her, share an object of yours, share your time, share an idea.Share with the child and let the child see you sharing with others.

– Praise and encourage sharing

Have no trouble in addressing the matter, uttering phrases such as “I was very proud when, on the beach, you lent your shovel to the boy.”Whenever the child is able to share, or even when in early stages shows an interest in doing so, positively reinforce their attitude.Praise by verbalizing your enthusiasm or other social manifestations of approval, such as smile, hugs, and parties.

Children like to feel noticed and valued.Paying attention to a particular behavior will increase the likelihood of it repeating itself more often.Therefore, parents should show their pride, appreciation, and joy for the attitudes of children they consider valuable.The child will surely feel more willing to do it again.Simultaneously, you will develop a more positive and secure self-image.

– Make jokes that appeal to sharing

The child learns to share by joking and then sharing.”My little bear is going to lend his ball to the doll” is one of the phrases you can use when making jokes that appeal to sharing.Children’s ability to put themselves in the shoes of others is not innate.It takes some training so that the decentration goes along with its emotional and social development.

Children’s stories can be good allies in this awareness-raising process.Starting from the characters in the stories, we can bridge reality and challenge the child to put himself in the other’s shoes, to experiment with other roles and to develop social competencies and emotional intelligence.If necessary, use the stories.

“You know, just as in this story there are families living with very little money.There are boys who can not buy many toys.How would you feel if you were this boy?And how would you feel if someone offered you a toy that you no longer use?Would you like your friend to share his lunch with you? “Suggests the specialist.

See the next page:The help that solidarity campaigns can give

– Participate in solidarity campaigns

This toy is mine.Well, it was mine … Now it’s yours. According to, solidarity campaigns are great opportunities for parents to model sharing behaviors and encourage their children to be supportive.Initiatives such as the toy collection campaign “Here we share stories and build dreams”, in favor of the delegations of Santa Casa da Misericórdia supported by the Union of Portuguese Misericórdias, which is under way [until January 10, 2016] in 18 of the centers Sonae Sierra and which the Psychology Workshop supports, is an example of this.

These campaigns are an excellent opportunity for parents and children to talk about friendship, respect and sharing.It is a hypothesis for the child to put himself in the shoes of other children as a way of seeing the world from other perspectives.As the campaign disclaimer mentions, the child has the opportunity to share stories (tell a little of yours and get to know others) and build dreams (of other children and yours), making history with small gestures.