Alyson Hannigan Doesn’t Mind Playground Toy Tussles

04/04/2011 at 09:00 AM ET
Courtesy Scholastic Parent & Child

Perfect playground etiquette isn’t for Alyson Hannigan — or her 2-year-old daughter Satyana Marie!

“I’d like to have a sign for the playground that says, ‘It’s okay if your kid takes my kid’s toy. Don’t freak out.’ It’s to be expected,” the How I Met Your Mother star, 37, tells Scholastic Parent & Child‘s April issue.

“My kid’s going to take any toy she can take, too. Developmentally, she doesn’t understand yet what’s mine and what’s yours.”

However, that’s not to say Hannigan and husband Alexis Denisof haven’t already begun instilling a few valuable traits in their daughter. High on the couple’s list? Respect.

“My husband and I respect Satyana the way we respect each other, the way we like to be respected. The idea is to let her develop skills on her own,” she explains.

“So if two kids are having a conflict over a toy, we don’t want to step in and solve it for them. In my experience, if you let the kids take care of things, they figure it out quickly. Often it’s the parents that have the problem.”

Fortunately, life is often pretty sweet for Satyana, who seems to have inherited her mom’s sunny disposition and sense of humor.

“She knows she’s funny, too. Like whenever she does something cute, she gets this smile on her face and announces, ‘Funny baby!'” Hannigan shares. “If she’s in a giggly mood, and she often is, just the word ‘twig’ can have her going for 15 minutes.”

And while “there are so many” aspects of motherhood that Hannigan is “unfazed by now” that would have once “grossed” her out — including “finishing food Sati has been chewing” and “wiping her face with my spit” — the first-time mother’s greatest victory is often bedtime.

“Lately, she’s really into doing somersaults at bedtime, and that makes it even harder,” she explains. “I have to think, ‘Well, maybe while you’re in this half headstand, if you could just lift your leg, so I can … ‘ You know. One step at a time.”

There is, however, one question that neither Hannigan nor Denisof have quite figured out: whether or not to give Satyana a sibling.

“We hit the jackpot with the first one. If you win the lottery, do you keep buying lottery tickets? Or just enjoy the lottery you won?” she ponders.

— Anya Leon

FILED UNDER: News , Parenting

Share this story:

Your reaction:

Add A Comment

PEOPLE.com reserves the right to remove comments at their discretion.

Showing 51 comments

Allegra on

She sounds like a fabulous momma. Love her!

klutzy_girl on

Love her! Still hoping Aly and Alexis will be a part of this baby boom.

Satyana seems like a very happy little girl. Alyson and Alexis are definitely doing something right.

Can’t wait for new HIMYM.

JMO on

Well I will say you usually never get 2 of the same! But you love each one for different reasons! But I don’t think that’s no reason to try for another one if you truly want to expand. But I do get where she’s coming from. Personally Satyana is so cute I’d have to go for a few more 🙂

Shawna on

Personally I think all children are like winning the lottery. I had a great son, so did I stop having kids? No, I went on to have two beautiful girls and I can’t imagine my life without them. I think all parents wonder how they could ever love another child like their first but as all of us who have more than one child can tell you – you definitely do!

Toya L. on

She does seem to be a great mom, of course I’d be biased either way, Satyana is my favorite celebrity baby.

amw on

i love her mommie outlook. i TOTALLY agree with the playground sharing thing. they will figure it out! chanting “share, share, share” at them does NOTHING. it really bugs me. and i think that her preponderances on another child are perfectly healthy.

emilyc on

I totally agree with her take on parenting here. Satyana is really cute too!

Jennifer on

Go for it again, Alyson! No two kids are the same…for sure! My daughter who is five now was the easiest baby…and my 2 yr. old son was a real handful! But, he has outgrown it (he was a colicky, refluxy, cranky baby) and he is just a JOY now! I agree…all children are like winning the jackpot…and I love my two for just being totally different from each other…makes my life very interesting and lots of fun as a Mommy!

Jillb on

I never understand when people say they might stop having kids because they fell like they hit the lottery with the ones that they have. Does that mean they are afraid their future kids won’t be as good? or will be born ill? I just don’t get it.

Gwen on

I think it is naive to think 2 year olds can work things out peacefully. Parents need to help their children to learn how we treat others. I know parents that didn’t stop their 2 year old daughter from misbehaving and now she behaves so poorly other children don’t want to play with her.

ariana on

i’d ask myself the same question, if i had such a great kid…should i try for more? that would be my main debaccle

Hen on

I totally agree with Gwen, I have a timid child so if another child takes away her toy, she will let them. Letting 2 yr old “work it out” usually means the bully or more aggressive child “wins” not always the best way to go in my opinion. If Satyana was more timid or shy Alison might have a different view. She should be more respectful of other mom’s and their children. Not all children are created equal and at 2 yrs old, if HER child “doesn’t understand” why doesn’t she teach her? Yes please Allison, step-in. I’m sure other playground moms would appreciate it.

Shannon on

Every child is a jackpot IMO. Who wants children who are all the same?

Jacqui on

Hen, you stepping in to help out your timid child isn’t empowering her. It’s reinforcing that she can’t handle things on her own.

As for having more kids, if people are sure they want more and more kids then great! But why on earth would you encourage people to have more kids when they’re happy with one? There’s no shortage of people last time I checked. You should NOT have a second child if you’re on the fence about it. You should be certain. When in doubt, don’t.

ecl on

One child is so much more manageable than two. She might just mean that she and her husband are really happy with their child and are able to maintain a good work/family balance. My son is two weeks younger than her daughter and I have the same thoughts. I want a second kid, but then I think it might make everything overwhelming even though I know I would love that child just as much.

As for intervention in the playground, I play it by ear. Sometimes it seems like a good time to step in and sometimes it doesn’t. Kind of depends on the dynamic I see.

truehurt on

Why is a grown woman fighting in the playground?

alice jane on

truehurt, where on earth did you read about Alyson fighting on the playground? There was nothing like that said in the article.

Alyson, Alexis, and Satyana are one of my favorite families to read about, or see pictures of, because they just always look like they’re having so much fun! No wonder Satyana is apparently such a funny child, she’s got parents who obviously don’t take themselves too seriously.

Melissa on

Re: Having more kids.

I’m pretty sure she’s just politely saying that it’s no one’s business if she and her husband are planning to have another one.

Maddie on

I agree with Alyson’s parenting style, I think it is really important for children to work through things themselves. However, it is necessary to step in and gently guide them if you can see your child getting overly frustrated or if someone is in danger of getting hurt (physically). I love Aly on HIMYM, and she seems like such a great mom to little Satyana. It would be great if her and Alexis had another wee one!

Kelly on

guiding them and working it out for them are two different things..I hope they will guide Satyana to be respectful of others things and step in when it is obviously needed, but children a little older than 2 can begin to understand these things. It doesn’t hurt to try to teach them to share though. I love Alyson and I hope they have another…Satyana is just the cutest little girl.

jessicad on

She sounds like a great Mom, you have to step back and let kids work things out on their own sometimes. I was visiting my best friend last week and her son is the same age as my daughter, we could hear them bickering over a toy in the back room and we just sat and listened to them working it out, it was so cute and grown up.

I totally understand the jackpot thing, my daughter is so sweet and smart and I can’t imagine being that lucky again. I do want another one at some point, mostly because I want her to have a sibling!

HM on

AS a preschool teacher there are sometimes when you need to step in and there are sometimes when the kids can work in out.

As a mom, if a child takes my kids toy away I will take it back. Sharing is one thing having a toy taken is different. If you want to teach your child respect teach them not to take things that aren’t theirs. Taking things form others is not being respectful.

As for more kids do whatever you feel is right.

Terri on

LOL..finishing food that’s already been chewed is definitely grossing me out!

JM on

everyone needs to decide for themselves. i have 5 kids which to many people is a lot nowadays and i love it 🙂 the more the merrier in my eyes. but people need to find the balance that suits them best.

Mae on

It is important to teach sharing. Yes you should take the toy back depending on their age. I believe it is a physical violation of personal space for someone to take a toy away and it is not just about taking a toy away. If you don’t be protective about their physical boundaries they won’t respect them themselves.

A child took away a toy off my child, I let it slide but he took away another one and I took it back and disciplined him by telling him “No… it isn’t good to share”. While it wasn’t my child I spent the time helping bub share with him. And he really appreciated it, sharing and baking a lego roast.

Mae on

Sharing is also about physical boundaries. If you teach a child it is ok that somebody takes whatever they have then they will never learn to respect their personal space. Protectiveness is an important mother trait.

I let 1 time a child take off a toy from my child. If it happens a 2nd time, I take it off them and disclipline by saying NO it is good to share. And then I help my child share with them so they ALL have fun. Making friends without being a bully is a good skill to teach too.

Tigs on

I honestly can say I have never seen a bad picture of Satyana, she is always smiling ear to ear or making a funny face. Out of all the celebrity kids she is my favorite. So darn cute.

Julie on

I have twins and if I stepped in everytime one took a toy from the other that would be all I did all day long! I totally agree that for the most part you have to let the kids work it out. Usually they do that fairly well on their own. Occasionally one will repeatedly take a toy that they other had and still wants which makes the first one cry. Then I step in. Theres no black and white in raising kids. You have to work with each unique situation, with each unique child, and what works for you. I agree with her that respect is number one. If they have respect, a lot of the rest will start to fall in to place.

I TOTALLY agree about the lottery idea. We feel so blessed with the healthy happy wonderful kids we got. Do we gamble for more? Although when they are your kids each will be wonderful to you as they come.

Sandra on

My husband and I raised a fabulous son! He is 27 now – smart, funny, well rounded and being an only child didn’t hurt him in any way. We tried for another but it wasn’t in the cards! Raising one child is less expensive and he was never spoiled. The three of us still have a close bond.

Em on

I guess you never know what to expect with children. The important thing is to love them despite their differences. My brother and I are like night and day. We have nothing in common and we don’t even look alike. People rarely assume we’re siblings.

Even as babies we were opposites (we’re not twins, 8 years difference). My brother still did naps in first grade and I stoppped napping when I was 2; he always needed someone to play with him while I could be by myself. Yet, my parents always say that they’re happy to have children who are completely different from one another and they love us equally.

Jen on

I agree that it’s not the end of the world if another kid takes your childs toy away, but it is good to teach sharing. You can’t expect them to completely get it but you still need to encourage good behavior. We need to accept normal development but still show our kids the right example without going overboard.

I understand how Alyson feels about having another child. My first child was colicky and fussy so it wasn’t the same situation when I decided to have another one. I think she should have however many children she likes, but keep in mind that it’s a gift to give a child a sibling. I am an only child and even though I had a great childhood I felt lonely at times, and as an adult I really wish I had a sibling. Seeing my children have companionship has been one of the most rewarding aspects of being a mother.

Antia on

While I wouldn’t say her outlook about winning the lottery should keep them from having another child, I do get it. I myself have one child, not because we “won the lottery” so-to-speak (although of course our son is wonderful, but not without his issues), it’s our choice to stop at one for many reasons. I have watched friends of mine (all of whom love all of their children dearly)…go through such hard times with multiple children (especially once they go past 2 kids). Don’t get me wrong, I KNOW how rewarding parenting can be, but I’ve observed parents losing their identities when stretched too thin trying to care for the little ones.

Marcia on

Love Aly but disagree with her statement on kids not knowing what sharing is. A friend of mine has the boldest child in playgroup (also 2) who takes from all of the other kids. She has the same outlook as Aly…one day she met another child as bold. All of the sudden the “fighting” was too much and she started to complain about the other child! How ironic that she wanted the other mom to teach her daughter to stop taking things from her daughter.

Halley on

I felt the same way she feels after my oldest son was born. He was (and is) such a peach, why mess with a good thing? It doesnt mean that I thought future kids would be less wonderful, just that, I had a family dynamic I liked, and wasnt sure I wanted to change it.

When he got older, I really felt the tug to have another child, and now I am pregnant with son #2, my oldest is 7. I think its good to wait until you are ready, and if you like the way things are, and everyone is happy, there’s no law that you have to have a second child. She may be content with just one, and it doesnt mean she worries future kids wouldnt be great, just that she’s enjoying life with the one she has.

Sharon on

No two kids are the same. At that age, kids play along side each other, not WITH each other. Learned that with my two girls and my friends kids. Kids do need to be taught to share, but I think that starts at home with Mom & Dad, so when the time comes at the playground, they know what sharing is.

Jen on

Yes, it is really hard to have more than one kid. Mine are 19 months apart, my daughter had colic and I had health problems. It was a stress on my marriage and my sanity. But that’s life! We overcame it and have kids that play together and love each other and we’re happy. Parenting shouldn’t wreck your life, but come on, it’s not supposed to be a piece of cake. I love time by myself but it’s selfish to just think about how having another kid will affect YOU. You at least have to consider how it will affect your child to be an only. And being a celeb must make it easier because you have enough money to hire a babysitter.

Kelly on

Letting 2 year olds work it out on their own is not feasible in a house with twins or multiple children. Maybe occasionally on the playground but multiple children living together need to learn respect, boundaries and rules of sharing.

canada girl on

I love Alyson!! She, Alexis and Satyana are all so cute. Everyone is allowed to parent the way they want too.
She seems like a very good mom. I am sure down the line Satyana would love to have a sibling to play with but once again that is their choice.

mo on

Sharing is a valuable lesson, but so is conflict resolution. Kids only learn to work out minor disputes among themselves if you give them the space to practice that skill–if you jump up every time a kid takes your kid’s toy, your child will be less prepared to deal with that situation by themselves when you’re not there to intervene. Step back, let the kids work it out, and teach and encourage sharing during your own playtime.

Kat on

I think it’s great that she doesn’t panic if her child gets into a squabble with another child, but as another poster pointed out, you still have to help children learn to be respectful to others. Sometimes that means sitting down with them and helping them solve the problem. That doesn’t mean going over there and yelling at them to share, but sometimes sitting with them and kind of leading them to the solution.

Wen on

Ok, seriously, 2 year olds cannot work everything out….they NEED their parents to TEACH them HOW to handle conflict. This is a HUGE pet peeve of mine, parents who can’t be bothered to actually parent. That is not to say that on ocassion later on when they are a little bit older and you know that playmate well you cannot let them work it out, but I think it is really bad manners when playing on the playground with people you don’t know to let your kids do whatever they want to do and not step in and teach them the correct behavior. It’s poor manners and poor parenting.

Chris on

I was the timid kid who’s parents left her to figure things out for herself. Every once in awhile someone would stick up for me, and I credit those times, not the times I was left alone, with finally realizing that I had enough worth as a human to stand up for myself. Being defended gave me a great deal of security and confidence

Lisabeth on

Ahh, the people who read too much into it. Sometimes, as a parent, YOU HAVE TO BACK OFF…EVEN IF YOU DON’T WANT TO. Nobody needs to see the helicopter mom hovering over the sandbox. Seems like she is a pretty good mom to me.

As for having a second kid…most people probably don’t think “hmm, this first one wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for. We should try again.” You can’t possibly imagine having another child to love…just like it is hard to imagine loving a child before you become a parent.

What I believe is that a sibling is THE ONLY other person who knows what it is like to be you. Same parents. Same grandparents. Grew up in the same house. Same crazy Uncle Larry who scratches his butt at Thanksgiving…

annette on

i never could get to the point of being able to eat or drink after mine . . . just couldn’t – i agree with her regarding letting kids, especially pre-schoolers, work things out themselves – my grandma had the same philosophy . . . “they won’t kill each other, let them alone” – great advice – good mommy and wonderful show

jw on

Thank you for showing a grounded smart mother! I love her playground philosophy.

Catca on

I think Alyson was just trying to be lighthearted and funny when she made the jackpot comment. She’s probably just saying they don’t know if they want to have a 2nd one, and perhaps she feels their discussions of the issue should be kept private and that’s why she makes little jokes like the jackpot one. I also don’t think she was saying she wouldn’t step in if needed on the playground – just that she wants to give the kids the chance to work it out first.

Megan on

I prefer to let the kids work it out themselves but, to be honest, the nasty looks I get from other moms if I don’t do anything leads me to step in.

dsfg on

SHe probably knows if she wants another one but doesn’t want to say! It’s none of the public’s business. It’s easier to evade the question than to answer it directly.

Josie on

Can she adopt me?!

Anon. on

I like Alyson’s opinion on “toy taking” children need to learn to handle things in their own ways & on their own given that they have god examples for parents. I was a very shy timid child & my mom did most of the talking for me & fed into my shyness which did not help it at all. As far as her comment on more children, I feel like her answer was simply saying were are happy & content with our daughter & if more are in the future we’ll jsut have to wait & see. She prob is asked that question all the time just like any mom but more because she’s a celeb.

Kat on

While it is good for kids to learn how to play together peacefully, they still need guidence and assitance from their parents. I agree with not making a big deal of it, that will hurt any positive learning. But subtle help lets children learn the ‘rules’ of play and know that their parent is there if they need them. How are they to learn if you don’t teach them, this is why we have parents.