Home Kid toys What to do if a toddler takes a toy from a playmate’s house and refuses to part with it

What to do if a toddler takes a toy from a playmate’s house and refuses to part with it

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Playdates are something moms involve their little ones in so they can learn how to interact with others their own age. During this time, everything from sharing to parallel play, through the control of emotions, is worked on. And in the process of working on these development skills, sometimes you have to learn lessons. This is the case when toddlers take a toy from a playmate and refuse to part with it.

When toddlers see a toy they love, they want to play with it. It doesn’t matter if it belongs to them or not. It could be from a store, daycare, or even a friend’s house. If it’s within reach, the little ones will.

While it may cause distress for others playing with the toy or a learning experience that toddlers can’t keep everything they love in a store, it’s quite a teachable moment. And it’s how these teaching moments are handled that will determine whether toddlers continue to take things from others without their permission.

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Here’s what to do if your toddler has taken a toy from a playmate and won’t part with it.

Explain to the toddler that the toy belongs to someone else

Toddlers can very well share. They can also be good at taking things from others and claiming them for themselves. It all depends on what stage of development they are in and whether toddlers still believe that the owner of an object is the person who first got it.


According Parents, toddlers aged two to four believe that the child who “owns an object first is its rightful owner”. As such, if they play with a toy at a friend’s house before a play date is over, they can just take it. It’s not because they steal. It’s that they believe the toy is theirs now.

When this happens, a discussion of toy ownership should be discussed in a way that toddlers can understand. And once toddlers seem to understand that the toy in their possession isn’t really theirs but is borrowed, a discussion is in order to return it.

Discuss how the toddler would feel if someone took their toy

If the toddler is really struggling to return the toy they took home from their playmate, just asking them how they would feel if the same thing happened to them can help get the message across.

According RaisingChildren.net.au, asking toddlers how they would feel if someone took their favorite toy will help them understand where their friend may be coming from if they miss their toy. What this helps teach is empathy for others. And if this concept can be successfully explained, toddlers may not pick up toys that don’t belong to them in the future.

There may be tears that will come with having to return the toy. But by explaining that the other toddler is just as sad because his toy is no longer there, we can make the little one think. And that moment is the moment to knock back the toy.

Ask the toddler to return the toy with an apology they understand

Toddlers still learn right from wrong. Because of this, they may still be struggling with what they did wrong by taking their friend’s toy. As such, help them realize their mistake in taking the toy and why it’s nice to apologize to their friend for taking the toy.

According ParentingFirstCry, it’s totally appropriate to apologize to a toddler. This way they get a better understanding of behaviors that are not acceptable. But, when it comes time for apologies, the publication says, parents should let toddlers lead the way.

This way parents can see if toddlers understand why they are apologizing or if there are even more teachable moments that will be needed to grasp the concept of repair.

Source: Parents, RaisingChildren.net.au, ParentingFirstCry