Giggle Parenting For Sharing


Here’s a fun game to play when a young child keeps taking toys off an older child. We played this with my daughter (5) and a friend’s daughter who is 2. The 2 year old kept taking toys off my daughter and my friend and I had to intervene constantly.

I suddenly had an idea. I whispered to my daughter to pretend to play with something, and then we would make a ‘giggle game’ where we would let her take it away, and then chase her and pretend we want it back.

As the two year old grabbed the toy, I exclaimed ”hey! I want that!” in a playfully annoyed tone. My daughter and I chased her, and she loved running away and hiding from us. I repeatedly tried to grab the toy, but always let her keep it. Through smiles and a playful tone to my voice I made  sure everyone knew it was a fun playful game, and for the purposes of the game she was ‘allowed’ to take toys. Cue lots of giggles and everyone in a much better mood.

Afterwards I noticed some sweet things; the younger girl gave my daughter dinner from her play kitchen, and started actually giving my daughter toys to play with!

It was so wonderful to see how a few giggles can dissolve the tension behind sharing struggles. And me and my friend even got to enjoy some conversation!

For more info about Giggle parenting check out Giggle Parenting: The Best Discipline Tool Out There! And if you’re interested to know more about how Hand in Hand Parenting helps with sharing struggles read It’s All Mine! Helping Your Child Learn About Sharing


What To Do When One Child Takes A Toy Off Another


Imagine the scene. You’re at a playgroup and your child has grabbed a toy off another child. You ask them to give it back, and they run away across the room. You chase them and they’ve got the toy stuck tight in their fist.

You believe in peaceful parenting, and it doesn’t feel right to forcefully rip the toy out of your child’s hand, but the other parent is staring at you waiting for you to do something. What can you do?

When a child takes a toy from another, they are usually ‘off-track.’ They may not be able to verbally process our words when we tell them to give the toy back, because their limbic system is busy at work dealing with feelings, so the rational, reasoning part of the brain that processes language can’t work well.

The desperate need for a certain toy probably relates to deeper feelings than simply wanting to play with that toy. Perhaps your child recently had a new sibling, and is processing big emotions about the change, or they have just started daycare. Their behaviour could even relate to earlier hurts; for instance if their birth or start in life was particularly challenging, .

We do need to set the limit using physically connection, but not with physical force. We can move in close, make eye contact with our child, and put our hand on the toy and their hand. We can set the limit, and tell them in a gentle way, that they need to give the toy back.

What often happens is that your may child begin to cry. If we try to avoid their upset we may notice that their off-track behaviour keeps returning, perhaps for the rest of the playgroup! That’s a sign that the upset feelings are still there under the surface.

Instead of trying to distract with new toys or stop the crying, it can really help simply to listen. We can just be there and empathise without rushing around trying to fix things. This gives our child what they really need, connection with us and a chance to heal and overcome the challenges they have experienced.

After we have listened, they will most likely be able to understand our reasoning that the other child did have the toy first. And once that deeper upset is gone, they probably won’t be even that bothered about not having the toy. They’ll feel lighter and more joyful without those heavy feelings clouding their thinking. Sharing will come more easily to them.

Our children actually love to share and get on with each other. So listening can help them return to their natural, co-operative selves. This is what it means to parent peacefully, that we don’t need to use force or control. Listening and connection are all we need.

Need more help with sharing? Here’s some fun playlistening games to encourage sharing

Here’s Hand in Hand parenting’s free mini e-book which describes in detail how we can set limits and listen to feelings. 

And if sibling rivalry (or friend rivalry!) is a challenge in your house you might want to check out Hand in Hand parenting’s online self study course Taming Sibling Rivalry

10 Ways To Use Special Time To Transform Your Day



Special time is a simple yet powerful tool that can transform family life. Simply tell your child they have 10-15 minutes to do whatever they like with you there to shower them with warmth love and attention.

Set a timer so you and your child has a clear idea of how long it will last. Don’t skip this step! There’s something magical that happens when we put the timer on, and set the intention to really give our child our complete  attention. No mobile phone checking or dinner preparing allowed!

Here are ten ways that you can use short bursts of special time to transform your day, and make things go more smoothly. Even 5-10 minutes can make a difference.

  1. First thing in the morning – If we have to rush out of the house to go to daycare and school then our focus can be on results rather than connection. But before trying to persuade our child to get dressed, brush hair and clean teeth, it can be really powerful to start the day on their terms instead. Connection builds co-operation with our children. It’s been scientifically proven. So if we spend 5-10 minutes doing special time, we’ll often find that it’s an investment of time that makes our kids more likely to co-operate when we tell them to get dressed etc. I love this story of how just 5 minutes can make a difference.
  2. Before doing household chores – When we do special time with our children something magical happens. They begin to internalise that close connection with us, so that after special time is finished they’ll be more likely to be happy to continue to play independently while we get on with a bit of cooking and tidying up. You can read more in  this story. This isn’t 100% guaranteed to happen all of the time. Sometimes our kids might be upset that special time has finished. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After soaking up our warm attention often children’s feelings of upset bubble up to the surface, and crying can be a healing process to let them go so they feel better connected to us. Staylistening through the upset can help us stay calm until we get to the other side.
  3. Coming home at the end of the day After a busy day out of the house, whether or not that involves being separated from us, our children may hunger for some warm 1-1 time with us. Special time can act as a bridge between the outside world and home life, helping our child to relax, and get connected to us again.
  4. When your child is whiney, moany or acting off-track – The brain science behind children’s ‘misbehaviour’ points to the fact that they don’t want to act in ways that drive us crazy. It’s just that when children feel disconnected from us, they literally can’t think. The emotional part of their brain, the limbic system senses a kind of ’emotional emergency’ so the pre-frontal cortex – the part of the brain responsible for rationalising and reasoning can’t function well. When children act off-track it’s like they’re sending a red flag saying, ”hey I can’t think I need some connection!” Giving special time during these moments is the ultimate unconditional connection, so our children know we will be there for them no matter how off-track they are. They can soak up our connection, and that along with the other Hand in Hand parenting listening tools is how their behaviour gets back on track.
  5. When you are feeling slightly off-track If you are not having a good day, and are feeling a bit low yourself, but still have a bit of attention to give, then special time can help the parent too! Just like our children long for deep, quality attention with us, we also of course long for those deep, connections with our children. It’s just that sometimes our own responsibilities, and stress can make it hard to give. If we take a leap, and offer a short 1o minute special time, then we get to soak up that warm sense of connection too. If even a short special time feels like too much, then we have a tool that can help!
  6. Before a playdate or when company are coming over Does your child have trouble sharing when their friends come over? Or do they struggle to let you have an adult conversation when extended family or your friends are round? Special time can help to give your child the warm sense of connection they need to be able to share you with others. Also when children are well-connected they can think well, they’ll be more likely to be able to share their toys naturally without us having to persuade them to do so.
  7. Before bed – Children experience sleep as a separation, and often it’s late at night that feelings bubble up that they need our help to deal with. Adding 5 or 10 minutes of special time to our evening routine can be really helpful for children who take a long time to fall asleep, or wake in the night. They internalise a close connection with us, so don’t wake in the night feeling disconnected and needing us.
  8. When you need your child to do something and they aren’t co-operating – If you need to leave the house, or brush your child’s hair and they just aren’t co-operating then special time can help you both take a breather from a frustrating power struggle. After a short special time, they may be feeling more connected and be more able to co-operate with you.
  9. If your child has been watching TV or using electronics – Sometimes the lure of a screen can make our children feel disconnected from us. They don’t seem to ask or need our connection as much while they’re having screen time, but later they may need an extra dose of connection with us. If I’m worried my daughter’s been glued to the screen a lot. I’ll offer her special time, and she often prefers this to TV! I just need enough energy myself to be able to give attention rather than rely on an ‘electronic babysitter.’ Listening time is essential!
  10. If you need to go out – So if you’re lucky enough to have the time and energy for a date night, or night out with friends, then special time can be the perfect way to say goodbye. A 5-10 minute dose of quality attention, can help your child to internalise that deep sense of connection with you, so even if you’re away for an evening or a night, they feel safe and secure.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this list of ways to make special time a part of your daily life.  Feel free to comment if you have any stories or questions. I’d love to hear how you get on with this wonderful tool!

Brilliant blog posts on

Mine, Mine Mine! Fun Games to Encourage Sharing


When my daughter Ruby was 22 months old, she learnt the word “mine” along with the concept that certain possessions belonged to different people. My husband and I found it quite amusing that she was suddenly exclaiming “mine!!” whenever we picked up something of hers. But then a friend with a daughter of a similar age came to visit. Previously Ruby had been happy to share her space and toys with others. But this visit was punctuated by her saying “mine mine!” whenever her little friend picked up one of her toys.

I’d always been so proud that Ruby had been able to share so well. What had changed? I wondered if it was my fault. I wasn’t sharing all my possessions with her. My mobile phone and computer were off limits. She had already broken my computer mouse, so I did need to set some limits to protect my possessions! But if I wasn’t being flexible with my ‘rules’ then how could I expect Ruby to share her most treasured possessions? I started to relax my rule about my mobile phone. I would let her play with it for a few short ‘special times.’ It turned out to be a lovely connected time, where I got to share her excitement, and surprise as she pressed the buttons and made things happen. We talked together about what the phone, smiling, and making lots of eye contact, so it wasn’t just about the phone, but about spending time together too. It’s not something I’d do every day, but I wanted to occasionally relax the rigid idea, that “this is mine, and that is yours.”

We also played a fun Playlistening game, where I would say in an inviting tone, “I’m just going to send a message on my phone,” and have the phone within grabbing reach of her. She would take it and I’d act all surprised, exclaiming “oh my phone!” She laughed a lot, really enjoying playing the powerful role of taking my possessions.

One evening I picked up one of Ruby’s teddy bears, and she immediately launched into “mine, mine!” “Whoops! Sorry,’’ I said, ‘’I thought it was mine.’’ She giggled as I handed the teddy bear back. We had started Playlistening again. I would take a teddy bear or doll, cradle it, and say ‘’oh my lovely baby.’’ She would exclaim ‘’mine!’’ I would apologise, as if I’d done it accidentally, and hand it back. She giggled and giggled and kept saying ‘da da’ which is her word for ‘again.’’ Once Playlistening gets initiated she often asks me to repeat the same things that make her laugh.

After dinner Ruby, her daddy and I would go to the local park to play on the grass. We love to do Playlistening outside, where we can freely avoid our household chores, and concentrate on having fun and connecting together! I would throw a cuddly toy in the air and we would all race off to get it. The finish was close, and Ruby would giggle a lot as she always managed to get the toy just in time.

All this laughter while playing the powerful role was helping her to release the tensions and fears that were coming up around sharing. She was having all this wonderful playtime, always getting the toys. I wondered if it would help her feel comfortable to share again.

The next day two of her little friends came round. Almost immediately one of the girls took Ruby’s buggy, Ruby erupted with “mine!’’ Oh no, I thought, the girl who loved to share is gone.

Of course the buggy was Ruby’s. I wanted to hear her feelings, but she hadn’t been playing with it at the time, so it seemed fair to let Julia continue playing with it. I gently told Ruby, ‘’Yes, it’s yours, but I think Julia would like to play with it for a bit.’’ Ruby seemed to understand that Julia was just borrowing it. And it turned out that Julia only wanted the buggy so Ruby took the baby out and played with it instead.

After that the three toddlers played happily all afternoon, sharing toys, and working things out for themselves so us mums were free to chat! Ruby was feeding the other girls cherries, and bringing them their water bottles. I was so happy to see her kind generous nature shining through again.

We often think it’s our job as parents to encourage sharing, to time turns, or give a toy to another child to stop a tantrum. This can be an exhausting task! There have been times when I’ve watched my daughter always want the toy that another child has, and if I constantly try to meet this need, it doesn’t seem to satisfy her. Often it’s not about the toy, it’s about the feelings that come up for a child when they see a kid having fun with a toy they don’t have. Maybe they think, ‘’if I had that toy I would feel better.’’

Our time and energy as parents is better spent listening. We can listen to the upset feelings, the tears and tantrums as another child plays with a toy. We can listen to the laughter, playing games to release the tension and fears that come up around sharing.

All our children love to share. When they are free of upset feelings they naturally want to get on well with others, and share the joy of their most treasured possessions. Taking the time to listen, connect, and play, helps to restore this natural state of co-operation and generosity.