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Let's make a deal: When is it OK for kids to swap stuff?

I stumbled across an unfamiliar stuffed animal in my eldest's room a few weeks ago, and I asked her where it came from.

"Eve gave it to me," she said.

"She just gave it to you?" I asked.

"Yeah," she shrugged.

That was about the moment that I started feeling uncomfortable. My daughter is still in elementary school, so giving away/swapping/selling personal possessions is a dicey proposition, since kids that age don't really "own" anything. Without seeing the handoff, I have no idea if the animal was given freely, if it came as the result of a direct request or a more subtle manipulation, or if Eve's parents had any idea that their daughter was bestowing presents on my daughter.

So I placed a phone call and found that Eve's mom was more than OK with us taking one more random toys out of their house. ("Heck," she told me, "Take all of the stupid things. Less clutter for me.") But it got me thinking: when it is appropriate for kids to start wheeling and dealing their stuff? I'm operating under the assumption that borrowing (stuff like CDs or books) is probably OK once we hit the tweens (assuming we still have CDs or books at that point), but that giving stuff away (or accepting such largess) seems like it should wait until driving age, when they better understand the emotional give-and-take of friendship and are less likely to try to use "stuff" as a social lever.

I say this with the quiet confidence of a guy who is mostly worried about stuffed puppies. How have those of you with older kids dealt with the urge to give or accept possessions?

By Brian Reid |  December 2, 2009; 12:01 PM ET  | Category:  Teens , Tweens
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Comments


Our kids (ages 3 and 6) borrow, give and take stuff all the time and there hasn't been any problem that I can remember. I try to make sure all the parents know about it but that's about it. So far, the children have managed just fine on their own.

Has anyone had problems with this situation?

Posted by: KS100H | December 2, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Just stay out of it. Well, checking with the parents of the other kid is a good idea, but *then* just stay out of it.

This is an area where kids can establish some independence, and if they make mistakes (Your child gave away the mink bunny-rabbit that Great-aunt Ethel handmade from her mother's old mink stole, and now Great-aunt Ethel is furious.) they can learn from the natural consquences.

Posted by: SueMc | December 2, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

(channeling Jezebel)

Don't worry about it until the kids start swapping their viriginity.

Posted by: anonthistime | December 2, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

"Without seeing the handoff, I have no idea if the animal was given freely, if it came as the result of a direct request or a more subtle manipulation, or if Eve's parents had any idea that their daughter was bestowing presents on my daughter."

Does Eve (cool name, if real) routinely lie?

Posted by: jezebel3 | December 2, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Correction: Does your daughter routinely lie?

Posted by: jezebel3 | December 2, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: jezebel3 | December 2, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Kids don't own anything? I had accumulated a pretty sweet baseball card collection by third grade, paid for with my paper route money. Trades/swaps were routine. This is hardly ground breaking territory.

Posted by: 06902 | December 2, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Correction: started paper route in third grade, so the collection probably wasn't so sweet until 5th grade.

Posted by: 06902 | December 2, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

06902,

Unlike what you and I did as youngsters, many kids these days don't work.

Posted by: sunflower571 | December 2, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Of COURSE kids own stuff at that age! I had a great collection of Bobbsey Twin books when I was a kid starting probably about 4th grade, until my mother "decided" to trash them ALL.

Posted by: Alex511 | December 2, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Funny, I would think they would be much more likely to use stuff as leverage in the tween/teen years - adolescence being what it is. Our 5yo routinely lends stuff to his cousin and best friends and has occasionally given things to them. He still treasures the rock that a girl at school gave him one day, calling it his special rock. I don't see anything to worry about.

Posted by: LizaBean | December 2, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

TheRealTruth is delighted to present the coveted Poster of the Day award to 06902 for correcting Brian, by pointing out kids *do* own things, and citing their own baseball card collection as an example.

Posted by: TheRealTruth | December 2, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Kids can have all jobs these days, mine make money letting the neighbors dog out (10$ week - not a bad deal!) and taking in mail when people are on vacation. They also raked leaves and picked up hundreds of pine cones this fall, and this summer there was the ever popular lemonade stand. They have to save half of all their "income" but they can spend the rest.

And of course kids own things! That stmt struck me as really odd.

Regardless, our kids buy, sell and trade stuff with friends. When they were younger they gave friends little things and it was no big deal. I never stressed about it, but the quote from yesterday about Brian comes to mind. This is normally a concern of an overbearing mother.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | December 2, 2009 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Isn't being generous a good thing?

Posted by: ishgebibble | December 2, 2009 8:30 PM | Report abuse

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