“Momma, that is my Bella!”, shouted Alisa’s toddler and ran to grab the bright orange teddy bear from Olivia’s little girl. What followed were minutes of disappointing commotion to make Alisa’s kid understand that the doll was a different one that belonged to Olivia’s daughter. By mistake, Alisa’s little girl had concluded that the doll was the same one they had back at their home and this was the reason for the alarm and the agitation that resulted.

Alisa was rather unprepared for the embarrassment at her friend’s home. Feeling so helpless and ashamed, tears brimmed from her quivering eyes. Olivia had a tough time comforting Alisa. She whispered, “Come on Alisa, this kind of possessive behavior is quite natural for toddlers. This is but a developmental stage in their growth. Never get panic.” But Alisa moaned that this was a regular experience with her kid, but she never expected this to disturb the nice moments with her friend when they met after a long time.

Toddlers can be aggressively possessive about toys, objects and people. Experts say there is no reason to panic when you spot this behavior in your child. They say, “It’s an important quality for kids to establish independence and individuality.” The remedy to this situation is cultivating the virtue of sharing in them, which is rather an attitude that is learnt. To master it, kids take quite some time and the effects of possessiveness can be frustrating for parents and caretakers.

Some signs that your child is possessive

  • Unwillingness to share the parent or a friend
  • Always clinging to their toys and never allowing others to even touch them
  • Feeling possessive over a space or room
  • Too much attached to a new sibling
  • Bossing around and disturbing other kids from their activities

The effect of the kid’s possessiveness on the parents

Often a possessive kid can be too difficult to manage. They may confront embarrassing episodes when someone visits their family. The same thing might also repeat when they visit other places or homes. Extreme sense of possessiveness almost drives many kids into a mad behavior often making them uncontrollable and violent. Learning to deal with their kid’s possessive behavior can be stressful and distressing for parents.


In the first place, parents need to understand that sharing is an alien concept that the kids need time to learn in their life. Sharing does not come naturally to kids. To handle this particular behavior issue, parents must put in a good amount of effort. The gradual steps to achieving this are letting your kid feel secure, introducing the situations of sharing gradually in bits and pieces, and educating the child regarding the reciprocal benefits of sharing.

Is your kid turning selfish by acting possessive?

Child psychologists opine that sharing is rather a complex matter for kids. Often sharing can mean the kids relinquishing the ownership over an object. This is why the kids are scared of sharing. By nature, every kid wants to feel secure in his or her domain being assured of the safe possession of the things given to them. Sharing takes time to understand and cultivate. At the same time, reluctance to share does not mean the kid is selfish or mean in nature. It only means that the child has not yet understood how sharing can work wonders in life.

Causes for possessiveness in kids

A variety of reasons can encourage possessive behavior in children. Some of them could be divorce and separation from a parent the child loves more, the arrival of a new baby or rivalry with an older kid. Often single children tend to imagine that everything around them belong to them. Irrespective of the causes for possessive behavior, the factors that trigger possessiveness include being ignored, unloved, challenged or threatened. To feel secure and safe, children get attached to possessive behavior.

When sharing is too hard?

While turning into a toddler, many kids carry at least one favorite object with them. This object is indispensable to them. In fact, this object represents the strong feeling of belongingness and love the kid has for one or more important adult in her life – most often the parents. Sometime this could be a grandparent or a relative nurturing her. This dearest object is not something that the kid can part with. Feeling a control over the toy or object lets the kid feel secure. Hence once this important feeling of belongingness towards the loved one is respected, the child is less likely to hoard any objects.

Parents must reward their children with their comforting presence. This will make the kids feel special and get connected to an adult who nurtures them. This possessive feeling of ‘my mom’ or ‘my teacher’ can help build the child’s core sense of self. It is necessary that this feeling must dominate the early development in children. This condition will help promote the sense of sharing in the kid without which it is nearly impossible to let the child share things with others. When the baby’s sense of self develops, she starts testing with exchanging objects with others.

Teaching sharing to toddlers: some expert tips to parents

  • Ask the child to secure at least one toy that she or she does not need to share with others. This will help them feel more secure about having the full control over one object they love. Eventually they will be prepared to share even this object once they get bored with it over time.
  • If the kid feels possessive about a person, set aside a special time for your kid to spend with her loved one. Tis will help reduce the need to feel possessive over the given person.
  • Start with the things they have in multiple numbers such as crayons, books and building blocks. It is easier to let them part with those things that they have in abundance.
  • Give incentives to the child and encourage the act of sharing whenever you spot an instance of sharing in the child.
  • Lead the child by example. Have your friends to spend some merry time with your family to let the child learn by observation. The child can be prepared to conclude that the more the people around, the merrier can be the life.
  • When giving a toy to someone can mean totally parting with the object which challenges their sense of security, kids find it easier to exchange their toys for nicer toys. So, during the initial stages, introduce the situations of exchanging to train the kid.
  • Permanent changes do take time to set in. hence you need to be patient with the child. Once the child starts feeling secure, slowly the possessive behavior will give way to other positive attitudes of sharing and caring for others and helping the needy. So, often time is the best teacher.
  • It is advisable for the parents to have some duplicate or extra toys for this kid to let them feel less possessive.
  • While encouraging the kid to exchange a toy with another kid, you can confirm the child’s ownership by saying, “Hannah, Bella is your doll for sure. Just give it to Lousy for some time and she will return it to you.” this might give the assurance to the child that her ownership is not challenged completely.
  • When children plan in groups, introduce the rule of taking turns and allow every child to spend the full allotted time to spend with the doll. Put in this situation, your kid will learn to the need for waiting till it is her turn. Also, passing on the doll to the next kid after her turn will teach her how to give off the idea of possessiveness.

Teaching ‘give and take’ to the kid – a practical lesson

When the baby’s sense of self develops, it can be the right time to experiment on exchanging toys and things with others. The parent or an understanding teacher can be a trusted partner for a kid. With a planned approach they can devise some interesting exercises for the kids to teach the quality of sharing. Alisa gathered some expert inputs on teaching her kid how to share. Here is an episode when her kid slowly learnt to give and take.

Hannah, Alisa’s kid is seen playing with a rattle. The baby is enjoying the sound the rattle produced while shaking it. Alisa intervenes in the scene and sits up before her little girl.

Alisa: Wow! That is a great fun with the rattle. Come on, go on!

Hannah giggles and continues shaking the rattle in different ways and seems enjoying the sound very much.

Alisa: Hanna, darling, once will you give it to mom? Teach me girl how to do that!

Hanna is first reluctant. She makes the sounds once again and then hesitantly hands over the toy to her mom. Alisa makes the sound now and laughs with the baby and very soon gives it back to Hannah. She slowly teaches Hannah how to take turns when Hannah has to play with a partner. This kind of learning situation can be gradually stretched on to deal with the other sensitive items the child loves the most.



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