'Mine' a toddler's favorite word

Toddlers love their own toys and don't like to share with others. At what point do we make our children share? Should I worry that my child is not sharing? Take a look at what the experts say about sharing.

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  • Toddlers are known for self-centered behavior, it is unreasonable to expect them to share. They are just not developmentally ready for sharing. Children advance from individual play to parallel play to cooperative play. As they get older, it is still hard for most children to share. They think about themselves and their needs. But there are a few things you can do to teach your child the art of sharing.

  • Consider developmental milestones

  • About age 2, the child starts to switch from individual play to including other children in play. At this point the child might be excited to see other children and play with other children, however, he may not be ready to share with other children. By age 3, the child is starting to take turns and can express concern for his friends. Age 4 is when they begin to share things. A child will be around 6 or 7 years old before they completely understand how to share and to play cooperatively.

  • Talk about it

  • Because children must understand what ownership of an object means and what their choices do to affect that ownership, it can be difficult to teach a child what it means to share. As caregivers we have a responsible role in helping the child learn this concept. Begin by talking to the child about sharing. Read books about sharing.

  • Share

  • One of the most effective ways to teach sharing is to model the behavior. Let children see how you share in different situations and they will begin to share too.

  • Be patient and positive

  • Make sure you have patience with your child. Remember, he is still learning. Focus on the positive behaviors. Your child is more likely to share if he is praised for it.

  • Practice

  • Playing in groups is excellent practice for children. Play some games and let each child have a turn at going first. Have activities for the children where each child must take turns. Try having group toys instead of individual toys to help encourage sharing. Allow your child plenty of time and opportunity to play and practice the behavior.

  • Help resolve conflicts

  • When conflict does arise, make sure you help the child work through the problem and have him be part of the solution. Help the child express his own feelings and encourage him to share those feelings with other children. Encourage him to listen to the other children’s feelings. Guide him through assuming different roles and having empathy for the people in those roles.

  • Once the child is able to understand others’ feelings, he will be able to link his feelings and have a better understanding of sharing. A good rule of thumb is, “Their play is their work and important learning ...” and use of this work will best help them learn to share.

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Michelle is the mother of two children who are in high school and elementary school. She enjoys sports and outdoor activities. She enjoys traveling and sharing new adventures with her children.

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