2 YO’s Sharing Peacefully (in less than a minute)

2 YO’s Sharing Peacefully (in less than a minute)

Picture yourself sitting with a group of 2 YO's in front of a large room full of parents. The children are squirming and waiting to go back to their classroom.

One little girl has several toys in her lap including a particularly enticing pink sparkle pony, and the one sitting next to her, whose current challenge is grabbing toys from other kids, has none.

When you see the grab start, what do you do?

Here's how I responded to the children. I'll call them Sarah and Rose:

When Sarah reached out, Rose drew back protectively. I caught Sarah in my arms and used SAY WHAT YOU SEE (SWYS) in a whisper to validate her desire to have the pink pony.


SWYS to Sarah: "You really want that pony! You want to have it!"


Sarah: (nods) "I want it."


SWYS to Sarah: "You want it! Of course you do! You like that pink pony." (I felt her body start to relax.)


CAN DO to Sarah: "I can ask her if you can have it when she's done."


Sarah: (nods)


SWYS to Rose: "You have that pink pony. When you are done with it, can Sarah play with it?"


Rose: (nods)


CAN DO to Sarah (with my arms still around her in a relaxed embrace): "You can have it when she's done. We'll sit here and wait."


Sarah waited.


A few seconds later, when Rose was sure she was in control of the toy, she held out the pony for Sarah. Sarah reached over, took it gently from her hand, hugged it and smiled.


SWYS/STRENGTH to Sarah: "You waited, and she gave it to you!"


STRENGTH to Rose: "You shared!"


Peaceful sharing achieved in less than a minute! What are your favorite ways to help children learn they can share?



  1. Terrific insights; the light bulb moment for me was the validation and acknowledgement expressed for the “grabber” (the child who wants to impulsively grab the toy away). That SWYS opportunity in the eventful moment is the dynamic changer. Validating feelings and needs, then offering the CAN DO. These posts are fantastic. They help me think in new ways and remind me of the many opportunities to use SWYS.

    • Kate,

      Thank you for taking the time to let me know my posts are helpful to you. That means a lot to me! And you understood exactly what I was doing. SAY WHAT YOU SEE is indeed the game changer. When you say what the child is communicating to you by their actions (in this case what she wanted), they know you understand and no longer have to act it out.

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