My girl (17 months) is almost always very kind and willing to share things with friends and family. When her little boyfriend (same age) comes over to play it is rare (but not totally unheard of) that she’ll grab toys away from him or pout because he has her toy.
But this past weekend, when we visited the inlaws, I abruptly removed her from the room with her cousin because the cousin was being so selfish and greedy and I didn’t want our girl to learn such bad behavior. The cousin (about 2 yrs) grabbed at least a half dozen toys, snatching several from the hands of our girl, clutching them to her chest, so she could have all the toys and our girl could have none. First I grabbed a few toys back from the cousin, told her “no, you can share,” and gave some to our girl. But when she kept grabbing and hoarding I finally gave up, removed our girl (who wasn’t upset by the greedy behavior so much as puzzled) and let her play peacefully alone in another room.
I’ve seen similar behavior on the playground, when 4 or 5 year-old boys will sit sidewise in the tube slides, intentionally blocking the slides to prevent other kids from going down. They think they are “big” kids, have discovered that they can control the world, preventing other kids from getting what they want, and they get a kick out of that.
Is such selfish, greedy behavior in young children inevitable? Is it learned from observing selfish behavior in other kids or is it a natural part of growing up in all children (ie, nature v nurture)? I believe it must be learned behavior and I am determined our girl will act better, but I realize she’s still young and only time will tell.