8 tips on teaching your toddler to share

November 13, 2014

It may be too much to expect toddlers to see things from another point of view, but it's never too early to start laying the groundwork for sharing.
“It’s mine!” Your toddler’s words are cute until she’s having a play date and won’t share her things with her equally covetous visitors.

The truth is, toddlers like what they like. It’s too much to ask for them to step outside their shell at this stage of development and have the empathy to want to share with others. It’s not until they are four or five that they can develop the capacity to see things from another point of view.Even so, you can start to lay the groundwork for sharing.
Make an example
Toddlers like to imitate others, especially parents, so you should start by modelling good sharing behaviour yourself. Offer your kid a bite of your meal, or let them hold the spoon with you as you mix the pancake batter and say “share” as you do this, to convey the concept to them.
Hide the best stuff
It’s probably too much to ask your toddler to share her favourite toys. If she has friends coming over, allow her to hide these and make it clear that everything else is fair game for group play. If the cost isn’t too high, you could also buy duplicates of beloved toys and again designate these for sharing with friends.
Shake things up
If the toys become a sharing war zone, then consider changing gears and initiating a group activity. Create some art, make some pretend cookies — share an activity instead of a thing.
Shared play
If your toddler is playing with, say, Lego, ask, “Can Daddy have some too?” so she knows you want to get in on the fun. If she resists, remove yourself briefly and then return and try again. If the child relents and gives you the building blocks, you can participate in their play. The idea is to show her that sharing can lead to engagement and even more fun.
Waiting their turn
At mealtimes you can make your child pause before indulging her natural inclination to eat or drink something they like. For example, you can ask that she passes the juice first to Aunt Marge because she is thirsty. Thank your toddler when she does this.
A helping hand
Sharing can, of course, involve lending a helping hand. Ask your toddler to help you by carrying something back to her room, or taking a plate to the kitchen after dinner.
A communal plate
At snack time with a group of toddlers it’s hard to get them to stop snatching what they want to eat. Rather than giving each one a separate plate of food, have all the apple slices on a single plate and then offer it to them one by one, so they learn the idea of taking turns.
Don’t push it
If your toddler doesn’t want to share, don’t punish her or try to bribe her into better behaviour. Don’t make a big deal of the situation. You can express disappointment, move on and try again another day. You’re in this for the long haul.

Also there’s value to be had in letting kids work things out for themselves. If your child doesn’t share with friends, they won’t be shy in letting their displeasure be known.

8 tips on teaching your toddler to share
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