Should children have to share their toys

Why doesn't my child want to share?

This is how the mediator role succeeds: explaining that you don't just take something away from others. "If the shovel in the sandpit belongs to a child and they don't want to give it away, you have to respect that," says Daniela Nindl, educator and deputy head of a day care center in Munich. Adults would also protest if the neighbor simply takes the car key and rushes off without asking.

Over time, children realize that nothing is taken away from them when they share. You know: The toy is mine, and it will stay that way when I give it away - I get it back. Some parents shy away from these conflicts and buy toys in abundance. "That doesn't do any good. It is important to learn to assert yourself. To recognize that this doesn't always work and to endure the frustration about it, as well," says Perren.

Find a solution if there is a conflict with the child

In the day care center, sharing usually works a little better, because there the ownership structure is clear for everyone: the toys belong to the day care center or kindergarten. Even the little ones know that they have to come to an agreement among themselves. "Conflicts do arise, but they are easier to resolve," says Nindl. "We have two rules when there is a dispute over a toy or a book. Either they both play with them together or look at the book together - or they take turns after a certain period of time."

Here, too, it is important that the adults do not simply disregard the children, but take their quarrel seriously, explain, help negotiate and work with the children to find a solution. It is a little easier for children who have siblings to share - earlier than only children they learn to assert themselves, to negotiate or to give in.

At around the age of four, the great drama about "mine" and "yours" is over and an important step in development has taken place: Children are now able to empathize with others, scientists call this the "Theory of Mind". Older children can now even weigh up. Big brother tends to give in when his sister asks for a toy. Instead of arguing for a long time, he has his peace of mind. And he knows: soon she'll lose interest in it anyway, and he'll get it back.