Ever wonder why your well-mannered preschooler plays nicely at other people's homes then becomes a tyrant when a play date is on your home turf?
Your overly emotional, stingy, unwilling-to-share child is just learning how to share personal possessions -- not knowing if she'll ever get to play with them again. Sharing is an advanced form of thinking and behaving, so don't be shocked when you invite a child over for a play date and your little darling clings, grabs and hides her toys.
Your child is cooperative when she goes to play elsewhere because her guard is down and she is in an exploratory role. The novelty of the new toys and play environment keeps her from becoming aggressive and from taking toys from others. She also has an inherent feeling that she does not own the toys and should act accordingly in hopes to keep playing.
Children are more likely to share when they've had a chance to experience the joy and value of the toy in possession. When parents play with their children and teach turn-taking it helps foster sharing with others.
Tips for peaceful and cooperative play dates on your home turf:
Prepare your child in advance that a friend is coming over and ask if she'd like to put away her favorite toys since it is difficult for her to share. State that all toys left out are for everyone to enjoy.
Inform your child that it is not okay to hit, push or take toys
Encourage her to use her words when she becomes distressed
Let her know that her friend will explore her toys and you'd like her to cooperate without grabbing
Remind her that we she goes to a friend's home that they share with her and you'd like her to do the same
Empathize and let her know you know how hard it is to share
Model sharing by playing with your child and sharing your personal items that are safe and appropriate (hair brush, scarves, blankets, etc)
Just because children may not share toys doesn't mean that they don't like each other. It takes time for children to adjust to regular play dates - especially at their own home.
Keep the play dates consistent (by setting up regular dates) and prepare children ahead of time of what you expect. A good play date is when everyone wins!