4 years old watching toys

What To Do When Your 4-Year-Old Takes Toys From Others?

Does your 4-year-old taking toys away from others?
Do you feel awkward when your child snatches it from the other kid?
Do you intervene in the situation to handle it?

Well, it’s a familiar feeling for a parent when the kid takes away a toy from the other kid. But hang in there, it is totally normal!!

Kids at this age (4 year old) are still learning to handle emotions. So it’s hard for them to understand that they can’t take someone’s belongings just because they want them. 

Every child has a different approach to reaching the object. In some cases, the child will repeatedly ask for the toy from the other kid, and sometimes they grab it quickly when they see it; sometimes, it’s a proper snatch and cry scene on the spot.

As long as we as adults stay calm, relaxed, and non-judgemental, the scene can be handled quite nicely without causing chaos.

Is it normal for 4 year old to take toys from others?

First of all, please don’t get worried or upset; this is entirely normal behavior for 4-year-olds to take toys from others. Your child is not being mean; he loves to explore every other thing he finds new.

But it is equally important to teach him that other kids have feelings too. So tell him that he cannot take anyone’s belongings without permission.

The habit of snatching does not go away in a day. However, as parents, we must constantly pay attention to it. Taking away a toy from another child is not sharing. 

Make your child understand that sharing and snatching are not the same. Sharing is when the other child agrees to share his toy for some time. In other cases, if he refuses to share, you cannot use or snatch someone’s else belonging without their permission.

Dear parents, Parenthood is a constant struggle; handle it calmly yet print a lifetime impression on your child’s life. Teaching empathy, patience, and sacrifice in the early developmental phase of a child will help him in the future when life is not always favorable for him.

How to deal with the situation when your 4-year-old snatches a toy from another child?

After all, your 4-year-old is just a little kid who loves to explore new toys around him. Sometimes he may take a toy from another kid. It is expected that the victim would throw tantrums and cry and want his toy back. 

Its time for you to step up and take action; what you can do is ;

1- Talk politely with the child. Ask him to return.:

Sit close to the child, holding his hands, making eye contact, and tell him that this toy does not belong to him. Tell him, “I know you want to play and explore this, but it is not yours.”

Tell him to ask the child nicely if he can play with his toy for some time. If the other kid refuses, then don’t disturb him. Instead, accept the fact that when someone does not allow you to take their stuff, we do not snatch it.

Do not yell or forcefully take the toy back. Instead, ask the child to return it on his own.

2- Give your little one a choice:

After talking to the child, give him a choice. Tell him that you have to give the toy back anyway, so if he wants to return it on his own nicely or should he needs help to return it on his behalf? 

Never give this choice out of anger. Instead, tell the child politely and wait for him to decide.

3- Give him time:

If the other child did not throw a tantrum or scream for his toy, it is still not okay to leave the situation as it is. Maybe that child does not react the way others do, but deep down, it hurts him. 

Ask your child to take permission and play with it for one minute. Letting him play with the toy for some time will give him more patience and time to process what he did. 

Meanwhile, as an adult, you talk to the other child and inform him, “he is returning your toy in one minute; please wait a bit.” 

Then, ask your child to return when the time is up.

4- Count to 10:

If your child refuses to return the toy in one minute, tell him that you are counting to 10, and he must return it by then. 

Start counting to ten more slowly so that he can realize that the time is getting up and he must return it to the owner.

5- Take it and return it:

If the child is still refusing to return the toy, take it and return it to the child. In reaction, your child might scream, bite or cry but hold him gently yet firmly until he gains some patience. 

Don’t respond or talk to him as you have done it. It will make him realize that he has upset not only the other kid but also Mama.

6- Give consequence:

Primarily children do this kind of thing at a place where they want to stay for a long time, such as play areas, birthday parties, gatherings, etc.

Tell him, “if you continue to repeat this behavior, unfortunately, we have to leave, and you cannot play with these kids anymore.”

How to stop your child from snatching?

It needs patience and dedication to address the snatching behavior. Children learn from elders and surroundings. And you can’t deny the “typical kid attitude.”

Below are a few ways how you can teach your 4 years old not to snatch toys from others. 

1- Set an example at home:

Training starts at home; the child sees and learns. 

Do not use his belongings without permission. Start doing it with small things; let’s say, when they eat, do not take a bite from their plate without their consent. It also upsets the child, so take permission. If he refuses, stop.

Intentionally ask the child to use some of their things, for example, “Can I please take your tablet for some time?” if they say “yes,” take it, use it and return it to show them how we borrow things and then return it. If they say “no.” Then say, “Okay, I won’t use your tablet.”

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2- Teach empathy:

Tell bedtime stories about being empathic towards others. Make stories where someone’s feelings hurt. Tell them how they love their toys and belongings. We have to take care of their feelings too.

Here are a few good stories based on empathy available on Amazon:

3- Make them ready:

The best way to overcome such behavior is to talk to the child before leaving.

Make them aware of where they are going and the situation.

For example, when you go to someone’s house, tell the child, “we are going to your aunt’s house. You cannot snatch other kids’ toys there. However, you can take one of your favorite toys with you. If you want to play with their toys, ask for permission, play with the toys and return them afterward.”

4- Slow down the process:

Let’s say the children still get into snatching situations. Slow down the process rather than forcefully taking the toy back and returning it.

Sit down with both kids and say, “ Oh, what happened? Why are you both upset” “ I know you both want to play with the same toy,” and “how about we take turns?”. 

Communicate, communicate, communicate.

5- Appreciate when they play nicely:

We always point out our children when they do something terrible.

Appreciate your child or the other one playing nicely and sharing. Like “Oh, look at you guys, playing so calmly with each other” or “I am so happy to see you both playing like this.”

6- Don’t always jump in, yet ensure safety:

Sometimes adult intervention is unnecessary, but we do it because we think everyone’s eyes are on us. 

Sometimes kids resolve their issues on their own, especially when they are playing with siblings and cousins. Let them do it on their own, don’t intervene unnecessarily. Rather closely watch them and avoid any physical fight.


It is totally normal for a 4-year-old to snatch toys from others. Your little one is not being mean. However, it is a parent’s responsibility to teach the child that we can’t take someone’s belonging without their permission. 

You must prepare your child for the upcoming event. Tell him, “we are visiting “that” place, and there will be kids. You can’t take someone’s toys without their permission. You can bring your own toys with you.”

There are many positive ways to teach your child something without yelling or hitting. 

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