General Question

keobooks's avatar

Should I intervene with my daughter's sharing?

Asked by keobooks (12502 points ) May 9th, 2014

My daughter is 3 and the other girl is 7. Here is the situation. My daughter has several riding toys. She has many things to ride on. The seven year old has no riding toys at all. The only toy my daughter has that is big enough for the seven year old to use is her scooter—which also happens to be my daughter’s favorite riding toy.

I was sitting with the 7 year olds mother. We noticed that the 7 year old was grabbing at the scooter and whining “Give it to me!!! NOW!” Then she started whining that my daughter wouldn’t share. Now this may sound horrible, but IMO, the seven year old was acting like a brat. I know she has no riding toys at all, but she didn’t need to be grabbing the scooter and trying to make my daughter fall off so she could take it.

Her mom said nothing. I said I didn’t want to get between the kids and they needed to work it out by themselves. The other mother said “You can do something about it. You’re the parent!” Meaning that she wanted me to force my daughter to share the scooter. I was embarrassed when she said this.

I then tried to take the scooter from my own daughter. I ended up picking her up and walking with the scooter. The 7 year old started grabbing the scooter from ME. I didn’t like that at all. So I took the scooter and put it indoors. I said nobody was getting the scooter. My daughter didn’t care. The girl and her mother went home, and the mother kind of shamed me for not letting her daughter ride the scooter. My daughter said she wanted to hide the scooter whenever the neighbor girl came over.

I feel like this was a train wreck. What could I have done? Explaining to my daughter that the scooter was the only thing the older girl would ride didn’t fly. Also, I didn’t like the way the older girl acted at all. I didn’t like that the mother of the older girl acted like it was perfectly fine for her daughter to try to knock my daughter off the scooter and then threw a fit when I put it inside.

I also think that the parents are kind of presumptuous in thinking that my daughter needs to supply the kids in the neighborhood with riding toys. They could get her a bike or something—used if money is a problem. If the girl had a bike, none of this would have happened.

I like these neighbors but I didn’t like this situation. How could it have gone differently?

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34 Answers

hominid's avatar

@keobooks: “The other mother said “You can do something about it. You’re the parent!” Meaning that she wanted me to force my daughter to share the scooter. I was embarrassed when she said this.”

Embarrassed for the mom, right? She can shut the f*ck up. There is a tendency for parents to either get involved and hover over the kids, or get upset when parents don’t and let things play out. If she wants to micromanage her kids, that’s fine. But don’t feel embarrassed when someone decides they want to be a sh*tty person by saying, “You’re the parent.”. Also, I think it’s worth noting that she likely did not mean that you should force your daughter to share the scooter. She likely meant that you have the right to stop that 7 year old from grabbing your daughter’s toy.

Everyone has their own parenting styles. If you have your own, just stick with that. If it were me – and I’m just speaking for myself – if a 7 year old was having a tantrum and grabbing a toy from my 3-year-old, I would likely announce that my daughter is having a turn and that she can ask my daughter to have the next turn. A 7-year-old who is grabbing and having a tantrum likely has developmental disabilities, so I would also keep a close eye on their interactions.

ibstubro's avatar

Her mom said nothing. I said I didn’t want to get between the kids and they needed to work it out by themselves. The other mother said “You can do something about it. You’re the parent!” Meaning that she wanted me to force my daughter to share the scooter. I was embarrassed when she said this.

You’re too nice, @keobooks, if there can be such a thing. I can tell you that when the other mother said to me “You can do something about it. You’re the parent!” I would have been incensed, meaning that I would have either replied, “And what are you, chopped liver??” or “You’re right!” and gone over, taken the scooter and my daughter and moved to another place where she could ride in peace.

That said, maybe you could have gone over, called a time out, and asked your daughter if she minded taking turns riding the scooter with the 7 yo. Perhaps brokered a time (3–5 minutes) thing.

I wouldn’t hide the scooter or allow my daughter to. Let her make the decision whether to share or not, and help her keep to her decision.

keobooks's avatar

When my daughter plays with the neighbor’s kid, the 7 year old almost always ends up having a tantrum and says she never wants to play with my daughter again. My daughter cheats at soccer and uses her hands. My daughter announces that she won the race when she comes in last. (This one gets me a WTF, who cares? Its obvious she came in last, who cares if she says “I WIN!” when shes way behind everyone else!) My daughter sits in the wrong part of the sandbox.

These neighbors are moving in June.. maybe we shouldn’t try so hard to keep in touch.

FlyingWolf's avatar

The next time you see this happening walk up to the girls, get down on their level, and take the scooter. Once you have the scooter look at them and say “there is one scooter and both of you want to use is, what do you think we should do?” Let each girl give an idea then ask if they think the idea will work, if the idea doesn’t work ask for another one. Eventually an idea will emerge on how to handle sharing the scooter and it will be helping give them to tools to handle these things themselves.

syz's avatar

Phhhttt. Not much question where the daughter got her lack of manners.

Crazydawg's avatar

You were forced into an awkward and uncomfortable situation. I am on your side when you said to let the kids figure it out for themselves as conflict resolution is IMO one the biggest lessons a child has to learn and master and it is too bad the other mother cannot see this.

That said, I feel there is another lesson to be learned and that is the importance of sharing. Your daughter was IMO being a little antagonistic in not sharing and in a way I do not blame her since the other girl was being a bit of a brat. I had many similar moment with my boys and I ended up having to intervene where I told the boys that if they did not share I would remove the toy. We reached a compromise with strict time limit on the time each got to play with the toy. I think it was 30 minute stretches.

keobooks's avatar

Is it just me, or is the age difference kind of a big deal? I mean, I think a 7 year old should be able to control herself better than the 3 year old. I know my daughter wasn’t right for not sharing her scooter, but part of me says.. she’s only three years old!

I like the mom who also has a three year old who lives down the street from us. She lets the kids fight each other until it gets annoyingly loud and then she takes the toy away for a few minutes. When she gives it back, our kids are giving each other the toy over and over.

I just think kids can work things out without grownups and we should only intervene if things get violent or just too rowdy.

ibstubro's avatar

Yes, the 7 year old dominating your 3 year old is a major ‘irk’ for me.

I also am not so socialist as to believe that owning the scooter gives neither you nor your daughter some rights over and above another kid. Yeah, sharing is great, if you want to. But…someone purchased the toy, someone received it as a gift, and ultimately someone is responsible for the toy’s maintenance and safety. I’ll bet that if the 7 year old tears it up, there won’t be a new scooter forthcoming – otherwise, she’d already own one, and the question would be moot.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I’d avoid the mom and her 7yr old. They sound toxic.

If someone has difficulty having fun when playing, that is on the parent of that child….NOT on you.

JLeslie's avatar

If the mother said, “you can do something about it,” I would have either have told the mother, “you can tell your daughter to ask nicely for permission to use the scooter,” or, I would have turned to her child and said, “ask my daughter nicely to share with you, if you grab it I won’t allow you to ride it.” it would have depended on how quick I was in the moment what my exact answer would have been. Basically, if the other mother is givi you permission to interviene then I would take that as you have permission to parent the other child. Probably the öther mother would not see it that way, but I wouldn’t care. Once the other girl did ask nicely, I would pursuade my own daugher to let her use it at least for a short time, explaining that the other girl doesn’t have another toy to ride on so it will be a very nice thing to do to let her ride the scooter.

keobooks's avatar

BTW, in case anyone has an amazing memory, this is the same mother who said my 18 month old was indecent and ungodly for going around without a shirt on. Anyone remember them?

Their five year old talks CONSTANTLY now. It seems like some sort of nervous tic. He was walking around in a circle saying “I’m going to have hot cocoa with marshmallows. It’s called hot because it’s warm. It’s called cocoa because it has cocoa in it. It’s called with marshmallows because it has marshmallows in it. You put the milk in a glass and heat it up then you add the cocoa mix with the marshmallows and then you have hot cocoa with marshmallows. My daddy makes it for me….” This was about 7 seconds of an hour long minologue from him.

The kids both whine and beg for attention all the time. Like I said, they are moving in June. I was kind of sad, but perhaps this is for the best.

hominid's avatar

@keobooks: “Like I said, they are moving in June.”

Perfect. Only a few weeks left.

JLeslie's avatar

@keobooks One thing that comes to mind is that when people move or “break up” sometimes things happen, or get pushed along, to get the person to feel more comfortable with their choice to leave. What this means is she might actually pick fights in a way, so she will be glad to be moving for her own comfort in her own mind.

One more comment from me about interferring with children. I think when the age difference is really big, which is the case in this most recent situation, the older child can have too much of an advantage sometimes, and so it can be warranted for an adult to step in.

I remember the story the no shirt story.

creative1's avatar

Her mother should have stepped in and explained it was your daughters scooter and if she wanted to use it then she needed to find something else to play with. Her daughter shouldnt expect to use what ever she wants to with out permission and it is kind of rude of her mother to imply she should be able to. If this is your daughters favorite toy it should be up to her to allow the use of it. I’ve seen 7 year olds riding on baby toys at extended daycare so its her way of taking advantage when she is over. Make a mention that she can probably find something cheap at salvation army for her daughter to ride on that is more her size. I know when I was a kid we used to bring our ride on things with us to the neighbors and not expect someone else to provide them to us.

Unbroken's avatar

I think you handled the situation with grace and appropriately.

Perhaps you can pull the mother aside and tell her you don’t wish to be in conflict with her but you don’t question he parenting style. Explain why you found the other girls behavior offensive and that you were concerned your daughter might fall and injure herself as a direct result of those actions. That you encourage your daughter to share and to work out problems, but ultimately your daughter is significantly younger and should not be expected to behave more politely or diplomatically then a 7 year old.

If she continues to have a problem I would explain to her that until she feels differently you will have to have the riding toys off limits until there is a change in behavior. If this doesn’t resolve the problem then I would wipe my hands of this problem, whether that means just going to visit her at her house or putting the friendship on hold, until such a time when the mother and daughter can be more reasonable. When it comes down to it, this would be considered an instance of bullying should this have occurred at school.

My own mother and the mothers I grew up around would have had no qualms about telling the 7 year old that she was not following proper etiquette and endangering herself and her friend, your daughter, then asking if she wanted to be responsible for hurting her, explaining she is much younger and could easily fall. It would actually be more firm and if the first warning wasn’t heeded she would send the child home or if that wasn’t possible enforcing a time out.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I have no problem speaking up whenever any child is out of control.

I don’t care who it belongs to.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

I would have to intervene kids figuring things out on their own notwithstanding. Sometimes even adults need a mediator, so why not kids? I would not have even given the mother a chance to say anything. I would have gone over there and told the girl that when my daughter was done riding she could ride it then. I would have then explained to my daughter that the girl was a guest and there were no other toys large enough for her to ride so she should not monopolize the time on the scooter. I would then remind the girl that when she gets her turn to ride the scooter, it is NOT HER SCOOTER so she needs to give oit back when asked after she has had a chance to ride it. If her and her mother cannot deal with that, then I would suggest she find and bring her own toy she can ride.

keobooks's avatar

The girl wasn’t really a guest. Shes our next door neighbor and the kids were playing in the circle together. We live on a circle with 3 other houses so nobody was the host.

SpatzieLover's avatar

^Then there’s zero excuse for her own mother not to mind her own child. Period.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

On the other hand, there is no shame in allowing your daughter to discover how to deal with irate peers on her own. Even on her 3 year old terms.

Children are pretty resilient and resourceful if left to themselves. If not checked, an over bearing parent can deny their child the right to discover their own social navigations.

I say, as long as a child is not being hurt, or is not mimicking the rude behaviors of other children, then let them navigate their personal spaces and relationships on their own, as much as possible.

hearkat's avatar

My son was my first (and only) and I would encourage him to give others “a turn” and I would monitor them. When he was 3, the neighbor’s daughter was 9 and they played together well, so I didn’t have to deal with such a conflict with someone who wasn’t our guest or we, theirs. In this circumstance, I’d wonder why the other child doesn’t have her own riding toys? If I knew or suspected that it was because they couldn’t afford it, I’d be more inclined to encourage turn-taking and sharing. If it was because the kid destroys things, I’d be much less inclined to want her using my kid’s stuff, and I’d be suggesting that the other parent get age-appropriate toys for her own child.

Another thought that came to my mind was whether the scooter is your daughter’s favorite because it’s the only one the older girl could potentially use? Some kids are naturally competitive, and this could be a factor here. It’s not a reflection on your parenting or even on your daughter’s character, but probably more a result of the bratty behavior of the other girl that your daughter doesn’t like, either. You might want to pay closer attention to their interactions and see if the “sharing” conflict is relatively frequent, and if it is, you may want to reduce their time together and find other kids closer to her age for your daughter to play with. Meetup.com often has parenting and mommy-and-me groups that might be a starting point if you need to network. I wish I’d had it around 20 years ago when my son was a preschooler.

pleiades's avatar

I’m a firm believer in sharing is caring. I completely agree with the first paragraph by @hearkat

However it’s rather unfortunate it go the point where the other girl was screaming for the scooter. Those things can pan out to be habitual (where the older kid kinda forces the little kids hand) Hell, your kid is 3! & the other is 4 years older, she should be in the mind frame of being the older more responsible one. Clearly isn’t the case. You handled it correctly I wouldn’t sit on the fact that the other mother said, “You’re the parent do something about it.” This isn’t about you, or her. Take it as a lessoned learned and your daughter grew from this. Maybe it’ll be ok to allow your daughter to share riding toys, after all they are kids just wanting an experience for like what? 30 minutes max they’ll play with that thing?

I’m not saying it was the other girls right by any means, just seeing where you could go from this in the future and how to tell your daughter. I was poor growing up, but I never whined for someone else’s stuff. Nope I went straight home afterwards and begged my mom for something similar instead hehe.

Take from this whatever you will.

Coloma's avatar

The mother of the 7 yr. old should not allow that kid to bully your little 3 yr. old out of a toy. 7 year olds know how to share, 3 yr. olds are barely grasping the concept and should not be forced to give up their favorite toy, to anyone, especially a much bigger and older child. I agree with @SpatzieLover the mom sounds manipulative and the kid is a brat. You need to find age appropriate playmates for your daughter and other parents that are diligent and fair in monitoring their kids behaviors.

My daughter is grown now, but when she was 3 the neighbor kid was this out of control, tank of a kid and he once pushed her off her scooter in the driveway and she hit her head, HARD, on the concrete. I started avoiding the kid and parents, who were such wussy pushovers. Let their son do whatever he wanted and just said ” Oh, Kevin, Oh Kevin”...“Oh Kevin my ass”. lol I’m not big on spanking little kids, but man, there were a couple times I wanted to just smash that kid in the face. haha

talljasperman's avatar

I’m sensing a divide between Democrats and Republicans… sharing her her scooter, verses private ownership. Who is to say that you cant rent her scooter or sell it to her, or ask her to buy her own.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@keobooks The girl wasn’t really a guest. Shes our next door neighbor and the kids were playing in the circle together.
Since the mom went home in a huff, I assumed she was over to your house visiting. However, if she were not even an official guess, I would tell my daughter that the girl for some reason had no toys, that it would be nice for her to share her scooter but when she was ready to let the other girl ride it, but it was when she was not riding it. I would still tell the other girl when my daughter was ready to let her ride, but when she asked for it my daughter gets it back, and if she don’t then she can’t ride it any further.

FlyingWolf's avatar

I think it is essential to remember that, even though this child’s parenting may leave something to be desired, the mother’s behavior and parenting style is 100% out of your control. The mother handled the situation poorly and the little girl certainly acted like a brat, but you are not going to change that, so hopefully you can help your daughter learn a bit about dealing with these situations and maybe help the other little girl develop some much needed social skills as well.

I learned the method I described from a gifted early childhood educator and started using it when my sons were 2 and 3. It worked like a charm and before long they were using to resolve conflicts without me having to get involved.

keobooks's avatar

As to the reason that the neighbors have no riding toys—they are in a kind of complicated situation. I don’t want to go into too many details, but there are multiple adults siblings and grandparents all living in a house and I have no idea how they can afford the mortgage. The relative who actually owns the house lives in California and has “evicted” the entire family to be out by the end of summer.

I try to remember that. This neighborhood is more affluent than us (because we got the house at a substantional discount… 70k less than it was worth) and we are still more affluent than these neighbors. I think they are broke. But the mom LOVES garage sales and I think if she wanted to, she could scrounge up a cheap bike.

keobooks's avatar

My daughter was so overwrought with this sharing the scooter. The kids came over to the circle and she dragged the scooter in the house, tossed it in the bathroom, and locked the door. She really doesn’t want anyone else to play with it. The girl got mad and said my daughter was selfish and mean. My husband doesn’t want me to force the issue. I told the girl not to give my daughter Popsicles or other treats and she was free to snub my daughter all she wanted. Maybe this was bad advice, but I wanted the girl to feel like she had some power over the situation.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

OK, sleeping on it, if I knew they were poor and could not afford a cheap bike or scooter, I would network with my brethren, or keep a look out for a cheap bike or scooter at the flea market, garage/yard sale, freecycle, etc. and get her one; take the high road, and maybe she will; learn a lesson about compassion. If all else failed I would get my daughter a new scooter and tell her she can let the other girl ride the old one, and if she was not a snooty brat about it, to give it to her down the line; again, taking the high road.

keobooks's avatar

Finally my daughter said the other girl could ride the scooter. At the last second she changed her mind but my husband and I said she couldn’t take it back and now she’s sobbing about the scooter. I told her it was hard to feel sorry for her when she had so many other things to ride.

We can’t just buy another scooter. This was a gift and we can’t really afford it either. We’ve been fortunate with relatives donating high end toys.

JLeslie's avatar

I’m inclined at this point if I were you to just tell my daughter that she can’t ride it for the next few weeks until the neighbor moves. She will have to sacrifice for a few weeks and no one gets to ride it and no one is jealous.

It’s probably not the best idea, but I can see my mom telling me to do that.

hearkat's avatar

As mentioned in my previous comment, if the older child doesn’t have riding toys because they can’t afford it, I do view this as an opportunity to teach compassion as well as turn-taking. Of course, you’d want both you and your husband to be unified on how to approach it; but you could point out to your daughter that she is very fortunate to have someone who is able to afford giving an expensive gift, and the other girl isn’t as lucky. You can ask her to imagine how she’d feel if the other girl was the lucky one with a generous relative and she was the one without a scooter – wouldn’t she want the other girl to share with her? (of course, phrase this in language she’ll understand)

keobooks's avatar

Right now, I got tired of them fighting over it so I took the scooter and my daughter inside. I’m sick of being a referee over this. I’m fed up with my daughter for not sharing and crying when she has several other riding toys. I’m sick of the older girl whining to me and trying to trip my daughter on the bike. I hate the whole situation.

I told my daughter that if she can’t play with the neighbor girl without fighting then they can’t play together at all today. Maybe that will make me lose the good mom rep, but I’m too tired of the whining and bickering to care anymore.

hearkat's avatar

Oh, I didn’t mean right now. I agree that it’s too hot of an issue, and ending their play time today is fine. Perhaps if the topic comes up later you could suggest that she use her imagination to put her self in the other girls shoes.

Issues like compassion and sharing are learned through such thought exercises, and through observation, as is conflict resolution. It’s an ongoing dialogue you’ll have with your kids into adulthood. One concept I didn’t put into practice until it was pretty late in the game was that they really do model themselves after us, so it’s important to choose your own behavior to be that of the type of person you want your child to become.

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