Gentle Parenting · Uncategorized


“I want your phone. Please give me your phone” I swiftly handed my brand new phone over- it didn’t matter that I was in the middle of ordering train tickets or that I was halfway through typing the outline for an article- the lady next to me wanted my phone and we all have to share…. don’t we?

How often do you get approached and abruptly asked to hand over your handbag, or your car keys because someone else is wanting a turn? My guess is never, unless said person is trying to commit a crime-in which case law enforcement really should be involved.

I remember taking my daughter to toddler groups when she was about a year old, of course she had no understanding of waiting for a toy and would happily waddle up to nearest child and with her iron grip attempt to pry the attractive toy out of a shocked and upset child’s hand.

This mostly lead to my daughter’s competitor being told to give up said toy, just because she wanted it! But it wasn’t her turn!

 “You have to share. Common now, share. She’s only little so you must share. Shaaaaaaaareeeeeeee” 

every time I heard this it really upset me. I would stand there baffled as my daughter escaped with the toy, and watch as the empty handed child, cried.
It took me ages to figure out why it bothered me so, yet it’s simple really- as adults we only share if we want to but as children, somehow it’s expected of us.
It makes no sense that the humans with the least amount of brain development should partake in a practice which we wouldn’t freely take part in ourselves, does it?

I’m Swedish, and as such the Scandinavian influence does give me a slightly different approach to parenting when compared to traditional British parenting. I love so much about both cultures and have raised my children with a healthy mix, however the sharing idea, I just don’t get.

In Sweden, we took turns. If you left a toy another child would start playing with it, but you were never asked to give it up prematurely. You moved on when ready, and funnily enough I don’t remember the same amount of parental stress or upset children arguing over toys-  I wonder if, when there’s a constant reminder to share hanging in the air, children become more obsessive over the toys?

Speaking to Swedish friends, they still do “turn taking” during  play dates and as a result, it seems no one ever really fight over toys.

As my daughter grew I started practicing this “turn taking” during toddler groups and as other children were told to give their toys up to the benefit of my toy thief, I would gently respond that it wasn’t my daughter’s turn yet, and that she would wait.

Of course, this didn’t really appeal to my young child in the sense it did to me, so through tears (mainly mine) I would remove her from the crime scene. I would empathise with her, and hold her as she resolved her upset and move her away towards an unoccupied toy which I would introduce when she felt ready to play again.

As the pattern changed, she almost stopped trying to “snatch“, and when she realised she didn’t have to hand her toy over in the middle of her imaginative play, she played on a much more involved level. Knowing that the space ship would remain with her until she had visited every planet and explored all of outer space to her satisfaction, gave her peace to play, at least until another child’s dinosaurs invaded and it was the start of another “bing bang!”

My youngest however, well that’s another story- apparently it’s always his turn…

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