When Your Toddler Takes an Object and Won’t Give It Back

What should you do when your toddler takes objects and won’t give them back when asked for them?

One option is to pry it out of your child’s hands, but that teaches them that when someone asks for something and the other person doesn’t give it to them, it’s okay to pry it away.

Another option is to just let them keep it. But what if it’s an expensive piece of equipment like your phone, something dangerous like a battery or a bottle of laundry soap?

I have found that it’s sometimes easier to ask my child to put an item somewhere and ask my child where that place is rather than asking for the item directly.

I’ll say “Okay, let’s go find the phone charger so that we can plug in the phone. Where is the phone charger? Can you help me find it?” Then we put the phone down to charge and wave bye bye and go find some books to read.

This avoids the immediate possessiveness that a toddler sometimes exhibits when they have a toy and someone else wants a turn and is being insistent about it instead of waiting for the child to be done. It is also helpful when a child uses an item at certain times or in certain situations and telling them “That’s not for you to play with” would be confusing or ineffective.


4 thoughts on “When Your Toddler Takes an Object and Won’t Give It Back

  1. What about if you have to leave for work right then and don’t have time? What’s the best way to get them to just hand it over-quickly?

  2. Thank you so much for this post. This was such good advice!! My Houdini son somehow manages to get into everything and get a hold of things I couldn’t allow. Until I read this, he was throwing things the moment I would ask for them back, as he probably knew I would eventually grab them off him. I really didn’t want to take things off him, but sometimes I really felt I had no choice.

    Ever since I read this post we don’t have that problem at all. He’ll either hand the item to me or put it back where it goes, and so much conflict has just disappeared from between us. It’s been months since I read this but I haven’t had one incident of him throwing things since I started putting your little tip into practice… genius.

Leave a Reply to Sarah Hull Cancel reply