Teaching Toddlers How to Share

That’s mine! Ahh…the lovely and dreaded toddler independence stages. If your little one is having a hard time parting with anything and declaring every item (living and not) is his, he’s due for a lesson in sharing. Not that this particular lesson is easy. Toddlers do many weird things and throw temper tantrums on the regular, so you’ll need to have the most patience possible. But teaching toddlers how to share isn’t impossible, either. Here’s how it can be done in the least stressful way possible!


Start with basic rules

Remember that your toddler won’t truly understand what sharing is until around age 5. Until then, you’ll need to start with some basic rules. Let him know that he can wait his turn to play with something and if he walks away, it’s free for someone else. Bringing a toy to a playdate is also a good lesson: everyone there gets to play with it as well.


Be a good role model

Model the behavior you’d like to see by sharing yourself. One of the best ways for a child to learn is by seeing another person like his mom and dad sharing. If you are eating something that he likes, then you can share it with him. You can point out how good it felt when you shared your food. This will teach him to learn that everyone shares their toys or food and not just the kids. Therefore, he will realize that everyone benefits from sharing.


Set a timer for playtime

If he hasn’t quite yet mastered the idea of taking turns, a timer can help. If he’s having a hard time parting with a toy, tell him he can have 10 minutes and when the time is up, it’s someone else’s turn. It will help him learn how to take turns and realize his toy isn’t gone forever.

Include a charity component

A really great way to introduce the idea of sharing is by talking about others who are less fortunate, and ways you can help. Teach him that you’re going to donate some of his toys to kids who don’t have any. Or bring him along to the store and have him help pick out items for a toy drive. Attaching a feel-good component to sharing can make the idea more meaningful and positive.


Introduce role play

How might your little one react if the roles were reversed? Try getting down to play and when he asks for the toy you have, say no. When he gets upset, talk to him about how he feels and correlate that this might be how his friends feel when he won’t share. A time-in is a great way to explore these types of feelings.


Praise, praise and more praise

Make sure you praise your child when you see that he is sharing his toys. Positive reinforcement is one of the best things that you can do for your child when they are a toddler. He will learn to share better when you are praising him instead of pointing out that what he’s doing is “bad.” Even if it is a small gesture, praise him when he share with other children, especially if it was a beloved toy. These simple praises are more effective than you think.


Practice makes perfect

With every new habit, the more you practice, the easier it can become a habit. Which means for toddlers, you’ll need to keep practice sharing in creative ways for it to really start sinking in. Even the simple act of being around others can help your little one learn how to share. As your child develops his own sense of trust, he’ll be more likely to share with others and see that it’s not so bad after all.

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