Mine! Mine! Mine! The chorus rings through the house. Squeaker says it’s his. Big Guy swears it’s his. Truth? It belongs to everyone and no one. Possessions in this home belong to the community. We share. We’ve attempted to instill from the beginning that Mom and Dad purchase the toys and books, if they belong to anyone, it’s us. We decide how they get distributed. They must work it out and share.
So, back to the “Mine” war going on. Yes, it still happens. Here’s the problem. We came up with this rule, except a few things actually belong to them. Like, a select few books belong to just Squeaker and a select few books belong to just Big Guy. But then something happened. Squeaker wrote his name in a book that didn’t belong to just him. The war rages on. Now Squeaker has bitten his own arm. All over this book that really doesn’t mean much in the scheme of things. So we must remind our darling children of the rules.
“Which books belong to you?”
“Ricky Ricotta, Mine Craft, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” Squeaker states once he finally calms down.
“And which books belong to him?”
“Pete the Cat,” he says.
“Okay. So this book does not belong to either of you. We share it. And whoever had it first should have it, right? Whoever didn’t can have any of the books that belong to them or the other books we have,” I remind them.
Usually it’s Squeaker that needs the rules reminders because he gets so upset about things that he self-injures or has a meltdown. Once in a while, Big Guy causes the issue, and he needs the reminder. But, we do not allow lack of sharing. Eventually, I’d like to see my children navigate these issues on their own, without the self-injuring and the throw-downs happening.
I will say that when they don’t wind up in “Mine” wars, they actually share beautifully. I see Squeaker handing over toys to Big Guy and vice versa. They lie together on the couch sometimes and watch each other play games. They help each other through levels of games. They recognize that they need each other. Their relationship is complex and beautiful.
Ways We Promote Sharing
- Praise when we notice one or the other child doing an exceptionally good job sharing. For instance: One child gives up a toy he is playing with even though he didn’t really want to because the other child really wants to play with it.
- Playing games that promote turn-taking. We’ve lately played a lot of board games, so the boys really have to take turns a lot. I think this has inspired a lot of turn-turning in their play. They’ve learned that they can have fun if they wait for the other person to take a turn.
- If neither child will agree to share a toy, that toy gets taken away for a while. If they cannot agree to share the toy, no one can play with it. Once they can agree to share the toy, they get it back.
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When I hear the chorus of Mine MINE MINE it just tells me that someone is about to break down, and I help them navigate through those troubled waters while they learn the skills to chart their way through those waves themselves. I’ll admit, in the moment, it’s a bit frustrating. Most of the time, though, we get through it just fine.
How do you handle the “Mine” wars?