Parents Have No Business Breaking Up A Toddler Fight At A Playground

shutterstock_170028611__1397573938_142.196.156.251Kids fight – especially toddlers. Toddlers are all about instant gratification and when you get more than one being in a space that expects to have all his needs met immediately, there’s bound to be some problems. Experience has shown me that the best thing to do when two tyrants collide is let them work it out amongst themselves.

The culture of over-parenting that we find ourselves in isn’t only ruining our own lives, it’s stunting the social skills of our kids. Someone had to say it. Moms have no business working out problems for their tiny minions. Tiny minions need to learn the art of negotiation. Well, we all know they can’t really negotiate, but they need to learn how to share. On their own. Without their mother or father hovering over them assaulting them with directives.

I was at a Brooklyn park with my then two-year-old son one day when a mother and son arrived with a gaggle of toys. He had two bouncy balls, a couple of pails and assorted shovels. The park had a fountain area, and my son and this little boy were the only ones playing in it that day. One of the balls rolled over toward my son and he picked it up. The boy saw and said “Mom! Noooooo! He has my toy!” Mom gets up, walks over to my two-year-old, takes the ball and holds it safely on her lap. This woman actually took a toy from a toddler and held it so it wouldn’t upset her son. I was pretty floored by this behavior.

The boy and his ball meander toward my son and the sprinkler. Boy throws the ball. My son picks it up. Boy is obviously pissed as we know toddlers pretty much hate sharing. They start pulling on the ball. Mom walks over and grabs the ball out of both of their grips and hands it to her child.

I’m not breaking up a fight between toddlers – I’m just not. I blame a parenting atmosphere that accuses us all of being crap parents for looking away from our children for two seconds. I’ve never been to a playground where all the parents just sat along the sidelines and let their kids engage without any interference. I simply haven’t seen it. I understand when toddlers are climbing high jungle gyms and such, but if two kids are playing and a conflict arises – let them work it out. Even if it means that the stronger kid gets the ball. Who cares? That’s a lesson, too.

Basically, we all need to back off. Even if that means just teaching your toddler how to pull on a ball really hard to get it back himself. Whatever. Just let him do it.

(photo: Andrey_Kuzmin/ Shutterstock)

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  • Robotic Socks

    Who’s gonna break up the parents when they get into a fight?

    • Lackadaisical

      Perhaps watching mothers whirling handbags at each other will teach the kids a lesson in how ridiculous they look and create a bond of mutual embarrassment. I would say the toddlers will break it up but I suspect when the mums are exhausted they will notice the toddlers playing happily together as if nothing happened.

  • allisonjayne

    This is one I have a hard time with. My instincts say to just let them work it out, but I also feel this unspoken pressure to make my kid behave the right way, or whatever. So I never know exactly what I should be doing.

    I try to only get involved if things get really heated….but it’s so hard to find that line between being overly involved and letting your kid be an asshole. I try to remind my kid as much as possible that if she’s an asshole (ok, I don’t use that word, I name the behaviour) that her friends won’t want to play with her and she’ll be sad. Sometimes it sinks in.

    • Kendra

      If you are reprimanding your own kid because you think her behavior is bordering out of line, I think that’s totally fine. The mom she was talking about is the kind I take issue with. She was basically reprimanding the other kid by taking the toy away and handing it back to her child, like the kid was wrong for picking up a ball. That’s just being a jerk.

    • allisonjayne


  • Kendra

    At first, I was thinking like a toddler UFC fight, and I was totally gonna break that up. But yeah, I agree. That mom sounds like a tool.

  • Valerie

    I only interfere with my kids and their friends if I think someone may get truly injured. Otherwise, they duke it out.

  • AP

    I don’t get why parents bring all these toys in public and then expect a) the other kids to leave them alone or b) their kid to willingly share with strangers. It’s not going to happen.

    You’re at a playground, you don’t need nine thousand toys!

    • Sarah

      THANK YOU. For the love of god y’all, please stop bringing toys to the fucking playground. God forbid your child play with the filthy communal toys or STICKS

    • TwentiSomething Mom

      My son LOVES sticks! He says lets go to the park and play with sticks and rocks and of course parents question me for letting him get dirty, even if we’re in a nice, clean park.

    • tSubh Dearg

      I took the Beau’s kids to the park one day when he was feeling sick and we came back with about 20 pine cones and assorted sticks and leaves, which they insisted on calling “bobs”.

      They also wanted to bring them back to their mother’s house, but we convinced them that they would be better off here and they would see them the following weekend. by which time they had forgotten all about them, which was lucky as we had burned the lot in our fire one evening due to lack of other fuel….

    • EmmaFromÉire

      I was obsessed with conkers as a kid, to the point where my mam would turn out my pockets as we left the park so make sure i wasn’t bringing loads of them home.

    • tSubh Dearg

      I may still be obsessed with conkers and some may find their way into my handbag during the autumn because they are so shiny!

    • allisonjayne

      We have a ‘if you don’t want to share it, you put it away/don’t play with it around other people’ rule. It’s okay to not want to share everything, but you can’t show it off either.

      Though we don’t normally bring toys to the playground either, because…why.

    • Kendra

      *steals this rule*

    • EX

      Yep. That’s our rule too. My daughter often wants to bring toys into daycare. If it’s something really nice I try to talk her out of it but otherwise I tell her that if she doesn’t want other kids touching it she’ll have to ask a teacher to put it in her cubby and the teachers follow that rule as well.

    • kittymom

      That rule works for adults too :P

    • allisonjayne


    • Momma425

      Um, yes.
      Bringing toys from home to the playground is a good way to
      -Start fights with other kids about sharing
      -Lose your toys at the playground
      -Break the toys
      Just leave it home.
      When my daughter has friends over, I have her put toys that she doesn’t feel like sharing in her closet and shut the door. If it’s visable in your room, it’s fair game for anyone over at the house to play.

  • Amanda

    I agree, but I have no way of knowing if the other parent agrees. I could try to stay out of it all I want, but the other parent might have an issue with it. That being said, if I intervene, it’s usually to tell my kid to share/be nice/don’t push and I always always err on the side of correcting my own child, not the other kid. If my kid gets pushed and my kid starts crying, I tell my kid to go somewhere else. I am always flummoxed by the parents who are so self-righteous about their own kids.

    • SarahJane86

      You’re a bigger person than me. If my kids get hurt, I’m very happy to say, “Hey! That’s not nice! Don’t do that!”

      Their right to ignore their kid being an arsehole does not trump my kids’ right to enjoy the whole playground. Too bad, so sad if they wind up butthurt I corrected their kid.

      And yes, I’m all over my kids’ then they are jerks, too.

  • Rachel Sea

    That lady needs to learn how to share.

  • Jessifer

    There’s different ways of “breaking up a fight”. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a parent stepping in and telling their child to play nicely or share with another child. That’s teaching them social skills and giving them the tools they’ll need to get along with other kids.

    In this case, this is just a jackass parent who steps in because they think their kid can do no wrong.

  • ChopChick

    Who wants to bet that kid is going to grow up into an entitled asshat?

    • footnotegirl

      You mean the kid that’s being allowed to take things by their parent without so much as a by your leave and who is apparently allowed to learn the lesson that might makes right?
      Both kids here are being taught horrid lessons.

  • Gretta

    That lady is a complete jackass. You don’t bring toys to a public place and not expect to share them at that age. Missed opportunity to teach both toddlers about sharing. MOM FAIL.

  • AlexMMR

    Yeah, that mom is raising an entitled brat. Taking a ball away from another child when her own child didn’t particularly want it?

    On the other side of the coin, how many times have we read about that awful kid on the playground who hit my child and the mother did NOTHING!!!!!!!eleventy!!!

    So what’s the balance? What is the proper balance between letting toddlers work out their own fights and OMG that mom is doing nothing about her wild child? Because I don’t want to be the talked about mom that gets everyone enraged here. So please, explain the perfect balance so I can walk the line and not have everyone discussing me with disgust.

    • Iwill Findu

      I think the balance would be to let your child work it out on their own but that doesn’t mean you don’t watch your kid. So if your kid hits someone during the process of “work it out” you make them apologize and then take them home. Because if you can’t play nicely with other kids you can’t be around them for awhile. Because I think most parents are pretty forgiving if they at lest see you’re making an effort to raise a decent person.

  • Dats

    Personally, I will break up a fight between toddlers. My kid is a bruiser and I stop him from hitting other kids because I don’t want him growing up to be an asshole bully. But mostly I try to stay out of his playground conflicts. I think there can be a balance between letting kids work it out and tolerating behavior you don’t allow at home.

  • Sarah

    I try so hard to not interfere, it’s tough! I know what is best for my son is to let him fight his own battles and not swoop in any time he gets knocked over or hits a kid for shoving him…natural consequences, etc etc etc. It’s damn near impossible to implement these theories into practice when everyone expects you to helicopter the way they do. You look like a lazy jackass but in reality it takes a great deal of restraint to let your child figure things out for themselves.

  • Melissa

    Okay, so I know this won’t be a popular opinion, but I completely disagree with this article.
    My kid is not entitled to a turn with other peoples toys, and they have the right to bring toys if they like. My kid doesn’t get to just walk up and take them.
    And the letting toddlers work things out on their own? Not going to work. Kids don’t negotiate, they hit and pull hair and push to get what they want. And without parental intervention, they are going to learn that violence is the best way to get what they want. Like that kids toy? Knock him on his ass and take it. He’s smaller than you!
    Yeah, no. Not ok.

    • Kendra

      I can see where you are coming from, I guess, but I still think it is completely and totally unrealistic to bring toys to a playground or a park and expect that your child will be the only one to touch or play with those toys. And if I’m being frank, it’s kind of rude to expect that of toddlers, because they don’t fully grasp that concept. So, I would imagine the child would become very confused as to why one child was allowed to play with this ball, but he/she was not. This would be especially confusing in an area like a playground, because all of the equipment around is communal. (I’m not sure if that is the right word I was looking for or not).

    • SarahJane86

      I’m a bit passive aggressive when it comes to this, “Hey! That’s not yours! You need to ask first!” And send my kid to ask. What sort of loon is going to say no, or allow their kid to say no, to a 3 year old asking for one of fifteen shovels?

    • Kendra

      I’m passive aggressive about most things, so I support your method. It’s an art really!

    • Melissa

      I guess it depends on the age of toddler we are talking about. 1-2? Yeah they won’t know. But 3-4? They should be in the process of learning to respect ownership.
      For me, what this boils down to is trying to control the world, and you can’t do that. Other kids can bring toys to the park, mall, school, or wherever if they like.
      But I can understand that it would be annoying if someone showed up with a toy box full of toys, expecting no other kids to touch them.

    • Kendra

      I agree that the child’s age would have a lot to do with it. I’m thinking 1-2 when I say “toddler” because that’s the age my daughter is now. But I definitely agree that you can expect more understand of “mine” and “yours” out of a 4 year old. I don’t wish to control the world. I’m just saying that if you bring toys to a public play area, then it doesn’t make much sense to be getting into a tizzy when other kids try to play with them too.

    • Melissa

      Yeah, if you bring toys, don’t be surprised when other kids try to take them. I agree there. And maybe (likely) the woman could have been less of a bitch about it.
      I just thought the article sounded much more entitled, like her child had some sort of right to other kids toys, because they brought the toys to the park. But maybe I misunderstood her attitude. It happens.

  • SarahJane86

    My kids always share their toys at the playground and are heartbroken when another child won’t share (luckily most do). It messes with their sense of “fair”.

    One memorable time, a child brought a wagon and left it to go play, my son and daughter had never seen a wagon before (they are Aussie and little red wagons are not as popular there) and were investigating, completely hands off. The kid freaks out and the mother sends him over to tell my kids to back off, I take my kids away, dumbfounded.

    Curiosity got the better of my son, and he went to look again, asking questions. Round two of freak out, this time he takes the wagon, and leaves it else where.

    I, rather horribly, didn’t want to say anything to the mother, but rather get out the bubbles we bring to the playground most times, much to the joy of all the other children, and tell him he couldn’t play. I didn’t, obviously, not being a sociopath, but I *really* wanted to.

    I thought this child was older than my daughter, too, so five?

  • Frannie

    I think you just have to suss out the situation on an individual basis. For example, yesterday my son took a toy from older kids (he’s 1) and they were fine about showing him how to use it and were really polite, sweet kids. So I told him to say thank you, and just watched him to make sure he didn’t break the toy. There have been other occasions where he’s taken a toy that the other child didn’t want to share, and rather than letting the other mom get involved, I took the toy from my son and handed it back to the other child myself and told my son ‘that’s his toy and he wants to use it.’ If another child were to take my sons toy, I’d just tell him ‘lets let this boy try your toy’ but that situation is unlikely, since I don’t bring toys to the playground in the first place to avoid such situations.

  • TwentiSomething Mom

    I’ve been at the park and have had kids hit my son- or come up to him and snatch his toys out his hand. That’s when the parent should get involved. Not me, but the parent of the aggressor.

    What you’re describing is not a fight but a toddler doing what toddlers do which is not want to share but the mom should have gotten involved and encouraged her son to share with yours. What she did was completely wrong by taking the toy from your son, she was only teaching her son its OK to not share and contributing to his behavior.

  • 0katykate0

    I dunno I’ve seen the wrath of toddlers duking it out when I was a daycare provider. Those little boogers can do some crazy damage…

  • effingplates

    I guess I’m not really sure why you think your toddler should be able to fight with another kid over something that does not belong to them in the first place. If they can’t negotiate, they really can’t understand sharing. Give it a year or two and then let them work it out when they have a little bit more brain development. This is probably going to get me some hate, but I think you just sound a little butthurt.

    • Momma425

      I kind of agree.
      If my daughter was at the park with toys, I would definitely make her share them (that’s why we never bring toys to the park anymore- because other kids take them and we never ended up with them back and parents didn’t care). But when another kid has a toy at the park, I don’t let her just go take it and I don’t assume that kid is going to share with her.
      If my daughter is being grabby, I let her know that she is welcome to ask the other kid to share, but remind her that just because she asked doesn’t mean the other kid has to. I remind her that she has her own toys at home, and if she gets too cranky, we leave.
      There is absolutely no way that I would have judged a mom for taking a toy away that my kid was fighting over. In fact, I probably would have gone over and apologized for my kid’s stealing of toys that weren’t hers.

  • LadyClodia

    Oh, toddler fights and parents. I was so upset about this last Friday, We were at toddler gym class, ages 19 months to 2.5 years, and Ridder is almost 2.5 so he’s one of the oldest. He gets really wound up sometimes, but it is gym class and it’s usually not a problem. He was annoying some of the other kids and trying to bump them down with his belly; one little boy he made cry and I did try to get him to apologize but no go. He then wouldn’t leave another littler boy alone, and I tried to distract him, but that also didn’t work. The boy wasn’t too upset and wasn’t crying, but his mom was getting really upset with Ridder. She kept telling her son to tell Ridder to stop, which her son didn’t, and then she just flat out resorted to pushing Ridder away from her son. Ridder thought that was funny, but I could tell she was starting to get aggressive. I ended up leaving with Ridder halfway through class because he wouldn’t calm down and I didn’t want things to escalate.
    I don’t want my son to be a bully, but he wasn’t being violent, he was just playing a little rough. The gym class is a safe environment, I mean the floors and walls are padded. One of the reasons that I take him is so that he can have experience interacting with his peers, and of course they’re only toddlers so things aren’t always going to go smoothly. Apparently other parents don’t feel the same way. And yet it also wasn’t like I wasn’t there dealing with the situation; she really shouldn’t have pushed him.

    • Maria Guido

      I can’t believe she pushed him. That is ridiculous!

    • LadyClodia

      Yeah, and I’m still upset about it. I’m horrible at confrontations, though, so I don’t think I’d ever say anything to her. I’m probably going to transfer him into a different class, though.

    • Kelly

      That’s a tough situation. First of all, I think it’s never okay to touch another person’s kid unless you absolutely have to. And it’s really never okay to push a child.

      That being said, I have been in maybe the other mom’s shoes? My daughter did a dance class and the instructor’s kid was in the class. The age range was crawling babies – 2 or 3 years old…my daughter was 1 1/2 at the time. This little boy was just very rough with ALL the kids. He would just kind of manhandle them while trying to hug or dance or whatever. My daughter was not into it. I kind of waited around for him to lose interest–nope. I said something to him a few times, along the lines of “Careful! Hug gently!” No reaction. After he knocked her over a few times I finally touched his shoulder and asked him to find another friend to play with, and then tried to keep myself in between them. I felt bad, because I really do try to only address her own behavior with her in public (not other kids’) and also let her work stuff out. But I also felt like this was beyond her ability to control, and it’s upsetting to watch another kid get in her physical space.

      It was different, though, because my daughter was littler and also because his mother–the class teacher—was pretty much ignoring him.

    • LadyClodia

      I understand not wanting your kid to be manhandled, and if the other parent is not addressing the situation, then I can totally see stepping in, and it sounds like you handled it well.
      I try to be vigilant about Ridder in class because I know he can play a bit rough for the other kids. Ridder is used to roughhousing with his 5 year old brother, and he doesn’t know to dial it down to play with the younger kids sometimes. It’s not something that happens every class, though; this was the first time for something like this, and it only went on for about 5 minutes before we left. I was just surprised at how upset the other mom was getting about it.

    • Kelly

      I know that it is equally hard when your kid is the perceived “aggressor” although I hesitate to use that word. I wish that I could find a class with other moms who were kinder–who would acknowledge that we’re all trying to strike the right balance. (And also, that everyone WAS actively trying to strike the right balance…)

    • LadyClodia

      When we first started he was one of the youngest and it seemed like it was a pretty good fit, but the other kids have mostly moved on, and a lot of younger ones have moved up into this class leaving him the oldest now. A group of the moms of some that have just moved up have a clique and don’t like to interact with the rest of us anyway, and the upset mom is one of them.

    • footnotegirl

      Tough situation, but as soon as he caused another kid to cry and wouldn’t apologize (the wouldnt’ apologize being the big thing here) then he should have been removed from the area and not allowed to play anymore. Kids have to learn that they can’t cause problems and refuse to make them right and then go on their merry way. My kid pushes another kid on the playground, and she gets a sit down and then apologizes. She doesn’t apologize, we leave the playground. Or at least take a time out to do something non-play for a while.

    • LadyClodia

      I honestly consider gym class to have different rules than the playground, probably because I pay for gym class. He got three warnings and I tried to distract him, but then we left when those didn’t work which start to finish was about 5 minutes. Kids bump into each other all of the time in class, usually by accident but not in this case, and some cry and some don’t. Unless they’re being legitimately nasty or violent, I’m not too concerned about it, and they all have “off” days. He’s been going to class for a year now and this is the only time something like this has happened, so it certainly isn’t a regular occurrence.

  • SA

    I go back and forth. Of course I have a ‘young’ toddler (19 months) so I am probably more involved than I will be at 3 or 4. I think you have to get involved to an extent with toddlers because they are learning the ropes. If I don’t show my kid how to share, she isn’t going to learn. And if I don’t illustrate how to stick up for herself, she won’t learn that either. If I don’t stop my kid from being rough with others it will continue. In a case like this it didn’t seem the mother showed her kid anything, she could have taken him to ask for the ball back himself or encouraged him to share.

  • CW

    Actually, YOU should’ve been the one going over to your child and making him give the other kid’s ball back. Not sitting on your lazy @$$ watching your kid act like a total brat and then passively-agressively dissing the other mom on the ‘net. Assuming that this incident actually happened and is not just something you made up to fulfill your post quota.

  • K.

    Anyone else feel like coming in between kids puts a weird social spotlight on you and the other parent? I have a lot of anxiety about that.

    I’m kind of morbidly fascinated watching toddlers interact “in nature,” anyway.

  • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

    Not like I bring toys to playgrounds because why?….but just wondering if the mom figured you were some evil oblivious mom who’d let your kid walk off with the ball. I’ve seen little kids act like shit is theirs before and seen asshole parents not even notice or care. And I did have a kid try to take my son’s toy with him at the Dr.’s office (he cannot wait that long without a car or “guy.” I had to be like, “We brought that from home. It was fine to play with but now we’re leaving, so I’m gonna need it back.” I think the Mom saw but figured it was the Dr.’s office toy, so it wasn’t a big deal. I’m not sure this playground lady was evil so much as distrusting of what would happen to her kid’s stuff.

  • Copperkroewe

    I’m sorry but this idea is kinda silly. Toddlers don’t work things out. What would mostly likely happen would be that the meaner kid would win the toy. No lesson learned and a bully in the making to boot. Plus the issue of parents needing to get involved once the screaming and hitting starts. Like you said toddlers want instant gratification, they cannot “work things out”, they cannot rationalize. Most kids are miniature self centered sociopaths, most grow out of it with direction (or call it interference) from their parents.

  • Véronique Houde

    So funny you wrote about this… Yesterday my bf and i brought Lea to the park – and immediately when we got there lea ran to a 3 yr old playing with her pail. At first the little girl screamed no!! But my bf and i just sat down on the bench. I know lea, even at 18 months old can handle herself. She grabbed another shovel and started “helping” the little girl. Quickly enough her dad walked over and told her to share… And all i could think was that the girls were already working it out, he could have let his daughter find out how to handle the situation on her own. The girls ended up olaying together for over 10 minutes without a hitch.

  • Mama of 4

    I agree but disagree with this article – yes toddlers need to learn the art of negotiation. But also, toddlers need to learn that there are consequences if you take the p*ss with other people. Generally I let my kids work things out on their own, but on occasions where 1 kid is being overly nasty and the other is getting picked on (regardless of which role my son has played) I’ll step in. I have a cousin I’ve stopped having playdates with because her daughter is horrendous at playing with others and sharing and will push, bite, and scratch and hide toys she doesn’t want others to play with. This isn’t limited to kids her own age, nor just her special toys, it’s anything and everything regardless of whether she owns it or not. I figured I have 2 options – the first being to stop getting our kids together and the second being to continue and risk things coming to a nasty conclusion.

  • footnotegirl

    BIG FAT NOPE. You teach kids what is and isn’t appropriate in public. And one of those things is that you DON’T TAKE OTHER PEOPLES THINGS. Also that you share, and that a ball is more fun when you play together. (So yes, both moms here were ‘wrong’).
    I am sorry you are too lazy to teach your child what is and isn’t appropriate and think teaching him that if you’re bigger and stronger, you get what you want and devil take the hindmost. Have fun bailing your kid out when he starts stealing iPhones from people ‘because sometimes the bigger kids get the toys and kids have to learn that too’.

  • Sophia Patel

    Thank you

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  • Véronique Houde

    Young toddlers don’t understand the concept of sharing (I’m talking about 1-2 yrs). All they know is “I want that toy” and ‘I’ll take that toy”. Generally, if two young toddlers want the same toy, one will take it, and if the other wants it back, he or she will take it back. They are generally able to work things out. Sometimes, the kid didn’t care that the other one took her toy, he or she just moves on to play with something else instead. Since kids that age don’t generally play “together” but play parallel anyway, it really doesn’t matter.

    As they get older (3-4 years old), kids start to learn about sharing. I think RIE is crazy in certain respects, but I like their philosophy about toy sharing. The best way to teach kids to share isn’t to force them to share, but to encourage them to learn about it themselves. Therefore, they advocate NOT stepping in when kids are arguing over a toy (except to stop one kid from hitting the other) and instead use “sports casting” to help the kids figure out what to do.

    So for example, let’s say your kid is playing with a toy and another kid comes up and wants to take the toy. You can say “Jeremy really seems to want to play with the toy” and leave it at that. It can help your kid understand what’s going on without feeling threatened. If your kid doesn’t want to share the toy, you can say something like “you don’t want to share your toy” and then see what happens. You can also describe how the kids are feeling. So if Jeremy is upset that he can’t use the toy, you can say “Jeremy looks sad that he can’t play with the toy” or “you look angry that Jeremy wants to take your toy”. Doing this helps the kids learn empathy and understand the situation, and lets them decide what they think is best.

    If your kid wants someone’s toy and he isn’t sharing, instead of stepping in and asking the kid to share, when your child comes up to you to complain about what’s going on, you can describe the situation back to them, suggest how they are feeling about it, and ask them what they think they can do about the situation to help out.

    At the end of the day, when you don’t send the message that kids HAVE to share, they tend to share more because it comes from them. Especially if you are at the same time teaching them to be altruistic and sensitive to other people’s feelings around them.

    This is stuff that my sister and I have been doing with our daughters, and it works amazingly.

  • kim

    Everything about this, I disagree with. If I want to bring my kid to the playground with toys, I will, whether you and your kid like it or not. (I don’t, cause what a hassle, but that’s beside the point). Although I work on teaching my toddler to share, your kid is not entitled to my kids’ toy any more than you are entitled to my phone. That’s the lesson your kid needs to learn. And if your kid starts attacking my kid and you do nothing, you and me are going to have a problem. You have no idea how to behave appropriately in the world.

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