Isn’t it beautiful to watch toddlers playing together and sharing their toys? Unfortunately, that’s not what happens in most cases.
If you come across such a sight, you should know that their parents put in a lot of effort teaching them to share.
Most toddlers cannot conceptualize sharing, and that’s why they’ll suddenly burst into tears whenever another toddler picks up a toy belonging to them.
They might have been disinterested in this particular toy a few minutes earlier but throw tantrums immediately after another child picks it up.
Children begin to understand the concept of sharing at about the age of three, and even though your child is starting to develop empathy, they’ll most often put their own needs first.
This is normal in children, and it’s part of the developmental process. You need to understand this so that you can gently teach your child to share.
Most parents feel embarrassed in front of other parents when their children refuse to share with other children. Even so, parents should not force their children to share but slowly guide them through it.
This article will point out things that you can do to teach your toddler to share.
Why Should You Encourage Your Toddler to Share?
As an adult, you would want to be in a place and with people who make you feel welcome. Sharing brings about this feeling even in toddlers, but their possessive little mind can make this challenging happen.
Sharing will help your child to:
- Make and keep friends.
Your child will have a great social life where they can make long term friends. Sharing toys and playing items with other children will make it easier for your child to make new friends.
- Play and take turns with others.
Taking turns helps your child understand that sharing with others does not mean losing what they have. At this stage, they may not be mature enough to know that he needs to take turns and play cooperatively with others.
- Learn compromise and fairness.
When you encourage your child to share, they learn that if we give a little to others, we can get some of what we want. It’s only fair to share with the one who shares with you.
- Negotiate and deal with disappointments.
For example, Jack wants to play with Mimi’s doll, but Mimi would not give it to him. Jack picks up his toy car and asks Mimi to play with it in exchange for her doll. Mimi agrees, and everyone is happy. That’s negotiation. In case Mimi refuses, Jack would have to find ways to deal with the disappointment.
Teaching Your Toddler to Share
It’s easy for you as a parent to get angry at your child when they refuse to share. That does not solve the problem but instead shows your child that sharing is just about being yelled at.
Your intention to get your child to share with others should show that sharing is an act of love, and you gain more by sharing.
There are many ways to help your toddler learn to share. Some may work better than others, depending on your child and the environment they are growing in. Here are some suggestions:
Be an example
Children learn faster by observing what adults around them are doing. Take time to play with your child, sharing the toys you are playing with.
Let your child know that sharing is broader than just sharing toys. They can share other things like food, a story, an idea, space, and other physical materials.
Make sure that he sees you giving and sharing with others. This way, they will gradually develop empathy for other people and share too.
Make sharing fun
Plan for playdates with other parents for the children. Be sure to discuss it with your child beforehand so that they can psychologically prepare for it.
You can let them know that they will be playing and sharing playing items with other kids to be fun in the preparation. You can carry toys that require two or more people to play so that other children can join in.
As much as possible, eliminate the notion of competition and let the playdate be purely about playing and sharing. Teach your child to play cooperative games to work together rather than competitive games that focus on winning.
Don’t punish your child for not sharing – talk about it
It’s embarrassing to see your child acting all selfish and throwing tantrums because another child is playing with his teddy, I know. But it’s more embarrassing for the children when you begin to pick on them and tell them for doing that.
When children feel embarrassed, they become defensive and might not be open to learning a new skill. Remember, it’s natural for your child to hold some things dear to themselves and refuse to share.
So, instead of yelling and throwing tantrums of your own, try to give your child some leeway and acknowledge that they are not acting deliberately.
When your child is calm, talk to them, and understand their feelings. Let them know that the other friend would have been happy to play with the toy.
For example, you could say, “You know, John loved your truck. He would have been happy to play with it. Can you let him play with it for a few minutes? ” If they’re still reluctant, you can ask why and try to understand his feelings.
When your child shares with others, praise them using descriptive words. Let them know their action made the other child happy, and it’s a good thing they did.
If your child feels threatened, like someone wants to take their toys away from them, they become very aggressive.
Your child needs to know that even though the friend may take the toy, they will return it to them eventually. No one will snatch the toy from them, but they can let the friend play with it.
This sense of safety is enough to help your child let go and share. In case they start grabbing, hitting, and throwing things, you might need to express some kind of gentle authority and stop the aggression.
Approach your child slowly and use a low voice and say statements like, “No grabbing” or “Stop hitting” that show your calm authority.
Start training them early
As soon as your child begins to grasp things and play with them, teach them to share. Play a game with them where you pass the toy back and forth.
When the toy is with the baby, tell them “it’s your turn” so that they will learn about taking turns. Keep it going with “my turn, your turn” chants until they learn to take turns. This is the first step to sharing.
As they grow, teach them to share with others by giving them things and asking them to share with others. For example, you can pick colored balls and ask them to share with others, giving each one ball.
“Give one to sister. Give one to brother. Let’s play together”. Statements like these help your toddler realize that sharing is a usual way of life, spreading joy.
Respect your child’s valued possessions
By now, you must have noticed that there are those things (toys, books, colored pencils, etc.) that your child doesn’t want to share. Respect that.
We, as adults, also have things that we prefer keeping to ourselves. I know you can now understand your child.
An incident happened with my baby sister. She’s three years old. A neighbor’s child came to play with her, and he usually does, but on this particular day, he broke my sister’s drawing toy book.
My sister loved it, but it was now broken. From that day, she learned to keep her precious breakable toys far from his sight. Such decisions have to be respected because they are protecting the child’s interest.
What To Do if Your Child Finds it Difficult to Share
Keep on encouraging them
It’s a good idea to stay close when other children come to play with your child so that you can consistently encourage your child to play with them and share with them.
When your child tries to share, please encourage them by telling them how proud they make you.
Increase their confidence
Teach your child new skills, like reading. Do you think they are too young to read?
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This new skill will give your child the confidence to interact with others and even share their knowledge with them.
Your child is growing daily, and with time they will begin to understand and grasp the concept of sharing.
It’s crucial that as the parent, you exercise patience with your baby and taking time to explain things that might seem to confuse them.
Soon, your child will begin to show empathy and understanding for other people’s feelings. At this point, you can begin to teach him about respect and how valuable a virtue like respect is.