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Ask An Expert / Children / Motherhood

How can I teach my child to share?

Teach toddler to share

Does your child struggle with sharing? The tug of war, the kicking, the shoving, we’ve all seen the perils of children fighting over a toy. Sharing is HARD, especially for little ones who don’t have a full understanding of the concept. This is a normal part of the development process. 

The growing child develops attachments to things as well as persons. This ability to form strong attachments is important to being an emotionally healthy person. The one-year-old has difficulty sharing her mommy; the two-year-old has difficulty sharing her teddy bear. Some children get so attached to a toy that the raggedy old doll becomes part of the child’s self

According to Dr. Sears, true sharing implies empathy, the ability to get into another’s mind and see things from their viewpoint. Children are seldom capable of true empathy under the age of six.

How to Teach Your Child to Share

The good news is, we can start teaching toddlers to share! Start early and play with them often to help them learn. Here are some tips and game that can help:

  • Starting at just over 1 year your child can start to learn what it means to take turns. Here are some ideas for fun activities that encourage taking turns:
    • Sit with your child and roll a ball back and forth to encourage playing nice with others.
    • Gather several big blocks and sit on the floor with your child. Begin by stacking one or two blocks. Next, give a block to your child and tell him to put it on the tower. When she does this, say, “It’s my turn,” and put another block on the tower. Next, tell her, “It is your turn.” Continue trading turns as you build the tower higher and higher.
    • First, you will need a board at a slanted angle that is wide enough for cars to go down. Start out by rolling the cars down the board, then give your child a car and let her try. Repeat, putting the cars on backward and sideways. Let her catch cars at the end of the ramp and bring them around to do it again!
    • First, get two play phones and sit with your child on the floor. Make a ringing noise and answer your phone. Say, “Hello. Is (child’s name) there?” Then hand the phone to her, saying, “(Child’s name), it’s for you.” Pick up the other phone and begin talking to her. Let her talk, then repeat what she says back to her. For instance, you can say, “Oh, you were playing with your doll.” Ask her lots of questions, listen, and show her that you understand her answers. After a while, say goodbye to her and hang up the phone.
  • As your child gets closer to 2, he can start to understand more about sharing. Practice sharing with your child. Have him give you a toy and then you give it back. Or give him 2 of something to snack on and ask him to give you one. Be sure to give positive feedback when he shares!
  • Playdates and group activities also help toddlers learn to share, interact with others, and make friends.

And finally, recognize when it is OK not to share. Sometimes there are items that your preschooler just isn’t ready to give up. And that’s fine. If you force him to share something he’s not ready to give up, it could backfire, making him resentful instead of generous.

Before a playdate begins, go through the house and have your little one pick out items he’d rather not have someone else play with. Put them in a special place. Then go through and pick out things that are great for sharing — art supplies, puzzles, board games. This will set a good tone in helping them learn to share.

-Bright by Text

Mile High Mamas
Author: Mile High Mamas

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