5 Tips To Help Teach Your Toddler How to Share
Sharing is an essential skill for the social, cognitive, and emotional development of children, and developing basic sharing skills at a young preschool age bodes positively on the communication and social skills a child develops in the future. But young children can often find the concept of sharing difficult, especially when they are possessive about certain toys and find it very hard to share those prized possessions. But relax; this too is a totally normal part of their development process.
Here’s how to help your toddler embrace sharing:
1. Make sure your child knows what sharing is
A young child might not understand that sharing means giving something of theirs to someone else temporarily, and that no one gets to keep (that toy for instance) forever. Use the word ‘share’ as often as possible around your child, so that the more he hears it, the more it becomes second nature.
Try talking with your child about sharing before playdates with other children. For example, you could say, ‘When your friend comes over, you’ll need to share some of your toys. Why don’t we ask him what he wants to play with?’
2. Be a good role model
Children learn what they see, so let your generous sharing shine. Show your little one how you share your things with them and your friends. Also make sharing something with your partner or together as a family, a teaching moment to drive the point home. For example, ‘Thank you for sharing your snacks with us’. Create as many sharing opportunities as you can to help your child practice sharing too, be it among friends or within the family with older siblings perhaps.
3. Give them time with other kids
As mentioned above, young children learn how to share best when they are playing with other children their own age. Bring a little pocket timer to playdates, and let the kids practice sharing and swapping toys every time it rings. This way, they start feeling more comfortable sharing, when they see that their friends also liked playing with their original toy, and that it eventually comes back to them.
Play games that involve sharing and turn-taking. Talk your child through the steps, saying things like, ‘Now it’s my turn to build the tower, then it’s your turn. You share the red blocks with me, and I’ll share the green blocks with you’.
4. Acknowledge their sharing efforts
As with anything in life, a little acknowledgement goes a long way, especially with little children who are better at reading facial cues and body language. Provide positive reinforcement, including smiling, clapping and saying ‘good job’ with excitement when your child attempts to share with others. To further motivate your child, use positive descriptive praise when he shares. For instance, instead of using a vague phrase like “You’re such a good boy,” say something more specific and impactful, like “Did you see the smile on your friend’s face when you shared that toy with him? Well done!”
5. Don’t force the sharing
All toddlers develop at different times, so don’t lose patience if your little one isn’t ready to share. Instead of getting frustrated, give him time so that it doesn't backfire and make him more resentful than generous about sharing. Instead, create attitudes and an environment that encourages your child to want to share rather than get into tantrums and tears. Tip: It might help if you set aside some of their prized possessions (toys) that your toddler absolutely would not like to part with at all, and some toys or games that he doesn’t mind sharing.