we feel… less panic

October 14, 2009 at 6:00 am 5 comments


WARNING. The following practice is not common in our culture.

At our house all of the toys, space, books, and blankets are shared. This is not to say that each child must share their toys, space etc. with the others, it means that nothing is theirs, it is all for everybody. No one need own something in order to use it.

(There are three exceptions but I will address that in a minute).

This means that when one girl opens birthday presents, the other two girls are eager to see what they have all received. This means that when a friend visits, there is less panic when the child starts to play with the toys, because they are for everybody. This means there is no need for guarding one’s possessions, worrying about the whereabouts of a stuffed animal, or yearning to play with something they did not receive themselves.

This also means that at no point do we need to enforce sharing. Because all the toys are for all the kids, one can just wait until that particular object is available.  And when it is time to pass a toy, bike, or item of clothing on to another family there isn’t much resistance, for there never was a fierce clinging to begin with.

We wondered how this would fly when we first introduced the idea, but what we noticed immediately was overwhelming relaxation. They could contentedly play with an object at hand without concern for the politics often associated with it.

This idea is not supported in our culture and even we sometimes stumble around with the proper wording. The grammar necessary to say something other than “mine” is a bit cumbersome. Instead we say:

The hat I wear. The doll I got from Grammie. The chair I am using. The bike I ride. The shoes I wear. The toothbrush I use. The game I was playing yesterday etc. etc.

In order to address their interest in having personal space, and control, together we recognized some exceptions:

Their body is theirs. They decide if it is hungry, thirsty, sleepy, if they want it to be touched and how.

Their beds. They decide how the covers will be, wether or not they want company, or wether or not it is a play zone.

Their special box. A small jewelry box that fits small crystals, pendants, keepsakes etc. It is closed and not opened without permission.

For anything else contentious we use empathy. If Xi receives a birthday present and isn’t ready for Bella to immediately take all the little pieces apart, we talk to Bella and explain the situation. Bella, hopefully, stops disassembling the toy not because it belongs to Xi but because she can imagine what that concern might feel like. If Bella is having strong feelings about Xi playing with Ellie the elephant, we help Xi understand that Ellie is a special sleep guardian for Bella and it’s important for her to have Ellie nearby when it’s time for bed. The girl’s concerns and interests are still valued.

Everything made available to everybody. It’s kind of a radical idea, but we really like it.

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i feel…frustrated what if…

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Nichole  |  October 14, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    I love this concept! I only have one son right now (1 yr.) but I have already begun thinking of how I would like things to be once siblings join the family. I don’t want yours and mine toys or belongings. I want it to be ours. I recognize that we have selfish tendencies but they can be minimized when we show our kids that we’re a family and mostly everything is everyones. Showing empathy and respect for their feelings will cause them to think of others and not so concerned with self-preservation. Thanks for sharing.

  • 2. Annie  |  October 14, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    We’ve started doing this and am so thankful to read about your experience with it. Thanks for sharing!

  • 3. PhoebeRae  |  October 28, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    My almost 4 year old has had MAJOR issues with sharing lately, with her things, other peoples things and other random objects. I think this is a wonderful solution. Hard for people to grasp initially I’m sure, but INGENIOUS! Do you ship to Australia? I’d love to purchase the Feeleez products you sell.

    • 4. nataliechristensen  |  October 28, 2009 at 7:03 pm

      So glad this could work out for you! You can email us at info@feeleez.com with your address and we will calculate shipping costs to Australia.
      🙂 peace to you. Natalie

  • […] If you want to read more on this topic, check out Natalie’s post here. […]


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