Sharing in the Sandbox


Koffee With Kelli

Good Morning Friends!!

Hope this morning finds you into the beautifully colored fall rhythm and warmly engaged in all that is happening in your family!! Reheat that coffee and come sit with me for a moment please!!

I got a call from a young mother who took her two children to the park this past weekend. Her two year old son is especially excited about the sandbox there and she had surprised him with a new dump truck from the GW (Goodwill). She also took some shovels. They were both looking forward to their time at the park.


When they arrived, there were four other kids already playing in the sandbox. They were older, one about 5 years old and the others around 7-10 years old.  They were very happy to see the toys arrive! There were also four parents sitting around the area, one mother and three dads.

The older children proceeded to ask and “borrow” the toys her 2 year old had brought and in exchange gave him a stick to play with.  She’s teaching him to share, and the intention was to share as most kids do when they bring toys to a public place to play.

What transpired next under the watch of all the parents present was a fun session of sand play with toys but much to the dismay of the above mentioned parent, the two year never got a turn with the toys he brought. When he tried to ask for them, the older children apparently could not understand what he wanted.

When the mother had had enough, she gathered the toys and moved to the swings until this particular group of kids had left. She called really frustrated and was adamant about not wanting to manage other people’s kids while their parents were sitting right there. Her other two choices were to not share with anyone or to leave the park; neither of which felt fair or right to her.

So, what would you have done? What would you tell this young mother who is trying to do the right thing with her young family? This is only the beginning of many times she will witness injustice toward her son…what is the right teaching? Should you say anything which involves another child if their parent is sitting right there?

Oh so much comes to my mind as I have processed this scenario and thought about our culture at large when it comes to growing children in community! I think there are times when speaking up is the right thing to do. I also think there are times when it is appropriate to keep silent. And there certainly are times when you just need to walk away. I do have a few thoughts and takeaways I’d like to offer. Tomorrow I’m going to share five thoughts and principles I consider when faced with situations like this… I’ll also share what I told this young mother.

2 thoughts on “Sharing in the Sandbox

  1. Kelli
    I can hear your voice in my head even as I read this post, so I will be anxious to see if I read tomorrow how I think you would respond! I suppose if it were myself, I would have at some point engaged with the other children. Friendly asking their names, saying hi to their mom’s. I would have allowed them to play with the toys for a season- when my young child wanted a toy back or a turn, I would of talked loud enough for the parent to hear and said, oh… Tommy… or Johhny… we are so glad to have made a new friend today! Joey would like a turn with the truck please. I appreciate you being a big new friend and teaching Joey how to share! This is a great time to teach Joey about being a super hero, Could you please share back his toy. You will be his new hero and teach him a good lesson. I hope we can play together again next time. I would hope his parent would over hear and assist in the return of the toy. If the other child did not, after a bit, I would say well Joey, it is time to go now and say good bye to your new friends. Maybe next time they will also bring some toys to share in the sand box. Hope you set a good example for the other children and the parents. Then as she did, go swing, slide or whatever else.

  2. So much of the interaction you described is parenting with social emotional learning in mind. Parents who teach empathy, understanding, sharing, and expressing themselves will be more versed in these moments, and parents who know this about their kids will have the tools in their parenting toolbox to speak this language to their kiddos. There are fascinating reads on this topic all over parenting and education blogs and magazines these days. I encourage parents and professionals alike to take a look.

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