How to teach your toddler to share

As your toddler starts playing more with other children, the issue of sharing can come up. Here are some tips for encouraging sharing skills.

Many toddlers have trouble sharing, and while it’s perfectly normal, there are things you can do to help them through this phase and discover the benefits of sharing with friends and family.

Practice taking turns with them

There are plenty of games and activities which can help demonstrate the importance of taking turns. Build a tower together, with your child stacking the first block and you adding one on top and so on, or alternate who turns the pages when reading a book.

Talk things through

Your toddler is likely to have lots of emotions about sharing, so sit down and talk them through. It can be helpful to explain why people like to share and how it makes other people feel when you do, or don’t share your things with them. Highlight the benefits for them too – it can be fun to share treats and toys with friends.

Share your own things

One of the best ways to show your child the benefits of sharing is to share your things with them and let them see you sharing with others. Let them have a taste of your snacks or try on your clothes, and then ask if you can do the same.

Respect your child’s things

Toddlers can be very possessive over their things, so if you want them to share, make sure their toys are treated with respect. Ask for permission before you lend their items to siblings or friends and ask anyone using them to take good care of them.

Prepare for playdates

Having friends round to your home or visiting other children is the perfect time to practice sharing. Put away toys that are harder to share and getting out items such as blocks and crayons which are easy for more than one child to enjoy. If your child has a particular favorite toy, ask them if they are happy to share it today, and if not, put the toy away until their friends have gone.

Praise good sharing behavior

Sharing can be hard work for toddlers, so make sure you praise any efforts, no matter how small they seem. Be descriptive in your praise, explaining how they have made their friend happy by sharing.

Accept that they won’t always want to share

On the other hand, it’s important not to punish your toddler for not sharing. Telling them off, or making them feel bad about their behavior, is likely to have the opposite effect and make them resent having to share.

Let them solve problems themselves

When you see your child snatching something from their playmate’s hand it can be tempting to rush in and sort out the situation yourself. Try and take a step back and see how the children deal with the issue, they may just continue playing happily, or they may start to squabble. Either way, it gives them a chance to develop their own problem solving skills.

Toddlerhood can be a tricky time for children – and their parents. Find out more about dealing with toddler behavior

Did you know…?

Forming attachments to things is all part of developing into an emotionally healthy person. So don’t worry if your toddler has difficulty sharing their things – it’s just a phase.

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