One of my son’s favorite songs is by Raffi, beloved children’s singer from the 1970s. The lyrics (see below) are about sharing, which is an important topic for three-year olds.
It’s mine but you can have some With you I’d like to share it ‘Cause if I share it with you You’ll have some too Well if I have a cake to eat If I have a tasty treat If you come to me and ask I’ll give some to you It’s mine but you can have some With you I’d like to share it ‘Cause if I share it with you You’ll have some too And if I have a book to read If I have a blog you need If you come to me and ask I’ll share it with you
If you haven’t heard it, here’s a link: RAFFI – Sharing Song Lyrics.
Most times my son Stephen is pretty good about sharing, and most other kids he plays with are good sharers, but not always. I’ve found there’s a whole playground etiquette to sharing that applies to both kids and parents.
If another child comes to play with your child’s toys, and your child gets possessive and grabby, it’s up to the parent to say for everyone to hear, something to the effect of, “Isn’t that nice, your new friend has come to play with you. Let’s share our toys so everyone will have fun.”
If that doesn’t work, there’s always, “Let’s take turns. You play with the toy for two minutes, and then we give your new friend a turn.”
Occasionally, I will have to threaten to take the toy away, and sadly nobody will get to play with it, unless everyone is sharing.
On the other hand, if my son approaches a kid and wants to play with his toys, I always hope the parent says something inviting so that it’s clear that it’s okay for my son to join in the play with the toys. If the parent is silent, I try to glean from body language if they are welcoming or not. If they seem friendly, I will ask, “Is it okay for my son to play too?”
In our neighborhood park, La Cienega Park in Beverly Hills, most kids, parents and nannies are very amenable to other kids playing with their kids’ toys, but occasionally I will see an adult actually move toys away if another child approaches or tell another child to give toys back to their child. Who knows, the other kid could be sick, and the guardian is trying to keep from spreading germs. This is when asking permission before letting your child touch another child’s toys could avoid an awkward and potentially tearful situation.
In the end, all toys should go back to the child they belong to, but unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. Quite by accident, I’ve gone home with an extra shovel or dump truck, and I’ve lost count of how many random sand toys belonging to my son have walked off with other kids.
So while I believe in sharing generously, I have learned my lesson that labels on toys are for everyone’s good. No crying when we get home and my son’s favorite ball is missing, and no more guilty feelings when I discover an extra Buzz Lightyear in my son’s backpack.
Still, I didn’t like the unsightly looks of writing my son’s name on his toys with a Sharpie, and somehow that appeared unfriendly, like “Stay out,” so I looked into those custom stick-on labels that you can order online.
I ordered from the big-name company that is the household name in personal labels, but they didn’t offer very many cute designs, and the labels faded after a few afternoons in the sunny sandbox. Then I found a great company, Emily Press Labels (www.emilypress.com).
I got adorable labels with little dump trucks with my son’s first name and last initial in a variety of sizes for all his big and small toys and fabric labels for his clothes. So far they have lasted through a number of baths, dishwashings, and a few wash and rinse cycles.
I’m pleased with my labels, which I think appear “friendly” and stylish. I applied them quite cleverly on some of the toys, like on the toy trucks where a mini license plate would go, and my son not only doesn’t object to them (he usually tries to peel off stickers), he proudly points them out and announces, “That’s my name!”
So next trip to the park we can take our toys with confidence that the right ones will be coming back with us!