When children are fighting over a toy, we often find ourselves in the middle of arguments, trying to figure out who had it first or whose turn it is. This is pretty difficult to do from the outside, and makes kids dependent on us to solve their problems for them.⁣


Instead, we can let go of control and give it to them:

  • Move close to offer support and make sure no one gets hurt. ⁣

  • If one of the children tries to hit the other, gently hold their hands while telling them “I won’t let you hit” or invite them to hit the couch or the floor if they’re feeling frustrated⁣

  • Then, calmly narrate what is happening as non-judgmentally as possible (e.g. “You’re both holding tightly to the red trike. You want to use it at the same time!”). ⁣

By doing this, we make room for the kids to build their social skills and get comfortable navigating disagreements.

We give them an opportunity to learn about emotions and empathy.

As Janet Lansbury explains, sportscasting communicates trust and belief in our children. By sportscasting we are essentially saying, “I’m here and I support you, but feel confident that you can handle this situation.”


Want to learn more about these strategies and the role conflict plays in development? Check out our course, Crucial Conflict: Why Kids Struggle To Share & Why We Should Let Them.

When a new baby enters the house, older kids suddenly have to share everything—toys, resources, attention—with their new sibling. ⁣

They watch family and friends coo and fuss over the baby, while they feel ignored. They hear from their parents “I can’t play with you right now, I have to feed the baby” or “be quiet, the baby is sleeping” or “we can’t go to the park right now, it’s time for the baby’s bath.” ⁣

Many children interpret a new baby in the house as a threat to their survival. For much of history, that threat was real—and still is for many families today. Somewhere deep in the recesses of our brains, there’s a part of us that knows a new baby means less for us. Less food. Fewer resources. Less attention and time from parents.⁣

Toy taking makes sense when we consider how scary it can be for children to have parental attention shift toward another child. As Janet Lansbury explains, “our child’s perspective might be: What’s the big deal about taking a toy or two out of the baby’s hands when she’s ripped my life apart?” ⁣

When we constantly intervene on the baby’s behalf, children see it as taking the baby’s side, and their frustration and resentment will build. Toy taking is a relatively harmless way for children to regain their sense of security and control.⁣

Instead of punishing or getting angry with older children, try one of these responses: ⁣

Say nothing. If the baby isn’t upset, why should we be?⁣

  • “It’s hard to have a new person in the house who wants to play with all of your favorite toys, isn’t it?”⁣

  • “I hear Zoe waking up from her nap. Do you want to share your cars with her, or should we put them away in your room?”⁣

  • “The baby was playing with the orange ball, and now you have it. She seems upset.” ⁣

Responding to their toy-taking with empathy and compassion lets them know we’re still on their side.


For everything you need to know to support beneficial conflict among siblings and peers, check out Crucial Conflict, our 48-page guide on Why Kids Struggle To Share & Why We Should Let Them.


It’s a basic human right to choose what happens to our bodies.⁣ Though many of us support consent, we have a cultural blind spot in our understanding of consent when it comes to children. We think nothing of grabbing babies to wipe their noses or holding them down to brush their teeth. We pick them up without telling them and pass them around to strangers without asking them. We tell them to keep their coats on when they’re too hot and to eat when they’re full.⁣⁣

⁣⁣

We can do better. If we want to change the world's understanding of consent, we need to start at home.⁣⁣

⁣⁣

We can raise human beings who:⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣

  • Feel comfortable communicating about what does and doesn’t work for them⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣

  • Know that consent is given, and can be taken back at any point ⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣

  • Understand that people get to be in charge of their own bodies⁣⁣⁣

  • Listen right away when someone says “stop” or “don’t”⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣

Our 3-page guide, “Consent Matters Every Day” provides additional depth. It’s full of suggestions for supporting bodily autonomy when you really need to get stuff done.