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Two-year-old in “mine” stage

Question:

My 2 ½-year-old daughter continually claims that everything is hers. If we are at the store, she will point to items on the shelf and say they are hers. If an object actually is hers, such as food or a toy, she demands that I agree with her. She won’t even eat or drink until I acknowledge this. When I try to ignore her behavior, she screams. How can I stop this?

 

Answer:

The “mine” stage is perfectly normal. When children reach about 2 years old, they begin to understand the concept of possession. This is also the age of independence. “I do” and “No” will join “mine” soon enough. 

Remember that a 2-year-old’s emotions and language skills are like a roller coaster: up one minute with excitement and laughter, and down the next with anger and tears. Try not to react with visible frustration to these normal developmental milestones. 

When you are frustrated, she will become frustrated. If she sees that she can get a rise out of you by getting on your nerves, she will continue to do so. If you cannot mask your annoyance, take a five-minute break from her and then redirect her attention to something else when you return.  

Think of her moments of possessiveness as teaching moments. While your daughter is demonstrating very normal behavior for her age, it is your job as her parent to help her place her feelings of possession in context. For instance, when she looks at her plate and says the apples are hers, you can agree by saying, “Yes, those apples are yours. And these apples on Daddy’s plate are Daddy’s.”  

Make it a game. Point to various objects around the house and ask her to whom they belong. She will come to understand that everyone has certain things that belong to them. She is not trying to be selfish. She is just test-driving her newfound assertiveness. Teach her that there is a proper time and a proper way to express ownership. Gently correct her when she is wrong, but don’t dwell on it.  Soon she will be moving on to a different stage of development. 

 

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