How to encourage toddler sharing

Mine! Mine! Sound familiar? Is this one of your toddler’s favourite words? Only second to no? If that is the case, don’t worry, it’s very common with toddler as they are growing and asserting their new found independence. And mastering the art of sharing can be very stressful for both of you!

While you think your child is acting selfishly and being bossy, and are worried that if she keeps it up she’s likely to end up friendless. But be reassured this is not the case and that your toddler is acting normal. From a toddler’s perspective, their own things (or anything that strikes their fancy) are an extension of them. They are beginning to understand possession, and they are developing a strong sense of self, which make mine and no two of their favourite words.

Of course, some toddlers are happy by nature to give a friend one of their biscuits, but most are a bit more possessive. In fact, at this stage in their development many children aren’t ready to share. Yes, they can play side by side with other kids if you keep a close eye on them, but expect some inconsistencies with give-and-take.

Sharing has to be learnt, and mastering it takes some time.

Here’s how to help them learn:

Practice taking turns

Taking turns and patience are essentials when trying to teach sharing. You turn one page of your toddler’s book, and then they turn the next. Or try give-and-take games; you hug the teddy, then give it them to hug and return to you. They’ll soon begin to learn that taking turns and sharing can be fun and that giving up her things doesn’t mean she’ll never get them back.

Don’t punish stinginess

To encourage sharing, use positive reinforcement rather than punishment. Try remembering that it’s occasionally OK for your toddler not to share certain special items. As they mature, they’ll learn that sharing with friends is more fun!

Talk about feelings

Help your youngster explore the emotions that relate to sharing. If a friend is holding something back, explain to your child how her friend might be feeling- “Sarah loves her teddy, and she really wants to hug him at the moment.” Help them put her own feelings into words too: “I know you want your doll,” or “You’re sad because Sophie took your car.” And make sure to shower them with plenty of praise when they do let go of something.

Praise the little steps

Toddler are often willing show their possessions and even let others touch them, without actually letting go of them. Encourage this “half-sharing” by telling them how nice it is that they are showing their toy. Eventually, boosted by your praise, they’ll feel secure enough to loosen her grip.

Think Ahead

If your little one is having a friend over, ask them to put any special toys away before the friend arrives. In their place, provide playthings that are suitable for two such as blocks, tea sets or even crayons and paper. Tell your toddler and their visitor that they can share these things, and compliment them when they do.

If one of the toddlers is going for a toy that the other has a death grip on, try distracting them with something else to avoid anything escalating.

Respect your toddler’s things

Ask permission before you borrow their crayon, and give them the option of saying no. Make sure that siblings, playmates and babysitters respect their things too, by asking to use them and by taking good care of them when they do. When they feel in control, they’ll be more likely to share.

Lead by example

The best way for your youngster to learn generosity is to witness it. So make sure you are not only sharing with them, but that they can see you sharing with others also. Most important, let they see you give and take compromise and share with others.

It can take some time to teach and learn but stick with it and you’ll have a wonderfully generous and sharing toddler in no time.