Throughout the month of May in the toddler classroom, I noticed many instances where one child was using an object and another child wanted that same object. Although these instances have been occurring since the children were infants, something has changed about the interactions. In most of these situations the children in each interaction worked out the struggle on their own.
Although most of the interactions have the same outcome, there are slight differences for how each child goes about trying to get an object and trying to keep an object.
The experiences I have noticed:
1. One child wants something another child has, but waits until it is available.
2. One child is using something and another child wants it and holds onto it. This child looks at the other child hoping he will give up the object. After the child using the object doesn't give it up, the wanting child lets go after a bit, often staying nearby, waiting for their chance to use the object.
3. One child is using something and another child comes and attempts to use it at the same time. The child that had the object first wants to use it alone and holds on tightly, letting the other child know she wants to use it by herself. The child hears her and stops using the object, giving her space, and finding something else to explore.
4. A child is using an object and another child comes over with a similar object. This child takes the object out of the other child's hand and then gives her the similar object as a trade.
They both are content/happy with the object they have and begin using them.
5. One child is using something and a second child comes over and holds onto it tightly. Both children hold on, letting each other know they each really want to use it. They may then look at me and I talk about what I notice, beginning with my observation. Sometimes just this helps one child let go and move onto another activity and sometimes they both still hold on. I then let the child who wants to use it know that she can ask the other child to use it (E.g., “Can I have it?”). If this doesn't change anything, I let the wanting child know that the other child is still using it. At this point in almost all situations the child lets go, sometimes sad, but quickly recovers when she finds something else to explore.
I rarely have to step in and help one child find another activity, which shows that Cohort 3:
~ Can work through their struggle together, usually with no help from me.
~ Understand that it is okay to keep the object one is using to him/herself.
~ Know that I am available if they want and that each of their feelings, frustrations, and thoughts are heard and validated.