Being a twin means sharing everything. They have been sharing since the day they were born – and actually technically even before since they shared my belly. Fun fact: we used to watch L kick H in utero during our ultrasounds! Could it be they were fighting for space even then? 🙂
L&H have to share constantly – which you think would make them be excellent at it. But alas, sometimes I think it makes them more stubborn. They lay claim to things and defend them with all their might because they KNOW there’s someone else always lurking who could possibly take it.
But it’s a fact of life, there’s no escaping sharing. Maybe it’s at a playdate, or home, or school, or the playground – your child will be faced with the challenge of having to share. And I promise, whether you have one, two, or ten kids – you will at some point in your week find yourself saying “share please!”. And when you do, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Use a consistent message. We use the same verbiage every time when it comes to sharing — with the hope that it will stick. For as long as i can remember Ive used the phrase “after she gets a turn you get it back!” So now When L is upset about having to share I’ll say to her “after X gets a turn what does the mean?” And she’ll say “I get it back!” This consistent language has helped her understand the concept of sharing.
Remember that sharing isn’t always necessary. The lesson of sharing goes both ways — giving and waiting. Sometimes it’s okay to say “H is playing with that right now, please find something else to play with”. Just because L decides she wants something doesn’t mean that H should have to share. Put yourself in their shoes – imagine if you were eating something at a restaurant when the table next do you decided they wanted your plate right then and there. You’d be PISSED if the server made you share. There’s just as much of a lesson in sharing teaching a kiddo to wait for a turn as there is to give one.
This can feel a bit uncomfortable in public situations if your child is scuffling over a toy with another kiddo. I personally find myself wanting to force L&H to hand the toy over just so we don’t look like monsters…..but try instead to use language to communicate to everyone (the other kiddo and their parent/caregiver) a good sharing plan. Offer up another toy, or propose that maybe they can switch toys after 5 minutes or encourage them to find a way to play with it together. I’ve found most parents are very understanding about this since they are trying to teach the same lessons too.
Timers are a great tool! “Alexa, set a timer for 5 minutes please”. Believe it or not, this is a regular phrase in my three year olds’ vocabulary. Because we’ve been using timers as a sharing tool for a LONG time. And it works! If there is a conflict over a toy I tell L&H that I’m setting a timer and when it goes off the other gets a turn. It took some getting used to but they picked up the routine quickly and it works!
Respect Your Child’s Special Things. L&H each have their own favorite toys – L has a blankie and H has a turtle. Turtle and Blankie are like my 3rd and 4th children. They come everywhere with us and if we ever lost them or someone took them…..well it would be catastrophic. That being said since they are comfort objects I know that L&H don’t want to share and I respect that. So that’s why I put Blankie and Turtle away when friends come over, or I require that L&H leave them in the car when we go to the park.
Eliminate triggers if you need to. If you feel like there’s a toy or object that’s causing great strife, eliminate it. Put it away for the day. Or if you’re out in public like at the playground and your kiddo is having a tough time sharing buckets in the sandbox – then redirect them to the swings or maybe come back tomorrow. Save your kiddos some frustration, and try again another day! If anything do it for your own sanity. There’s only so many times you can say “share please!” Which brings me to my next point….
Patience. As with every part of parenting the concept of sharing takes GREAT patience. There will be days your kid is the sharing star at the playground…..and then there will be days you want to hide behind the slides because he’s a monster. It’s OKAY. Take deep breaths, eliminate triggers, leave the playground if you have to — life lessons are hard to teach and it’s only natural to get frustrated at times.