Thursday 17 September 2015

Special and Communal Toys

Yesterday, I watched a lot of fighting over a new toy which Alex picked up for himself, a rather nice little Jeep with several moving parts and a little man to go with it.  In our house, we have a rule that new toys are "special" for the first day you get them, which means that you don't have to share them with anyone else if you don't want to.  After that, unless they are tucked in your room, they become communal toys that everyone can play with.

Nathan is quite big on this rule when it's his toy but when it's Alex's, he lurks like a vulture, snapping up the toy if Alex so much as looks away.  When I ask him to give it back, Nathan protests that Alex wasn't playing with it anymore.

We've been working on this for awhile now, mostly targeting the snatching.  If Nathan takes the toy while Alex is near it, then he loses a privilege.  If he takes it and refuses to give it back when asked, he also loses a privilege.  I'm not sure how strict a boundary I should enforce.  Should I tell Nathan he can't touch it at all during the first day, even if Alex walks away from it?  I think that's asking for more self-restraint than an 8 year old can muster but the constant pestering is driving me nuts.

To a point, it's normal.  Kids want what they can't have and a bright shiny new toy just out of reach has been a marketing mainstay for generations.  I'm fighting evolution here.  But I do need to get respect for others and empathy across somehow.  I know it's early for both, but I figure I'm going to need to do some extra drilling on the subject.

I guess I just need to resign myself to constantly repeating the same instructions over and over.  Sooner or later, he'll get the message.

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