There can be fewer more dreaded words uttered in a toddler get together, than the ubiquitous “Mine!” swiftly followed by an outpouring of heartrending emotion when a toddler discovers their much prized doll, lego piece, crayon or game ( delete as appropriate!) is no longer in their possession, having been seized, quite literally by another pint sized guardian of the toy box!
You see, that’s just the point- young children are not able to see a situation from another perspective, due to the way the brain develops, they cannot empathise with others until they reach four or five years of age. So a toddler is really only responding instinctively when they refuse to hand over the goodies to a playmate. Make you feel better? Probably not- so how can we help teach our children to share? It’s an important skill for them to learn and one they learn over time.
Toddlers have a very strong sense of ownership of things as they are trying to make sense of the world around them. It is genuinely hard for them to understand the concept of sharing at this age.
Check out these top tips:-
Try not to make a huge fuss when your child refuses to share as this will only increase their resistance.
Encourage them to see the situation from the other child’s point of view. Say something like, “ Alice is feeling sad because she doesn’t have a toy to play with, maybe you could let her play with one of your toys for a while”
Introduce the concept of taking turns, for example, “ It’s Toby’s turn to play with the train, then it will be your turn. Shall we play with the cars whilst you are waiting?”
Don’t jump in straight away, try and give your toddler some space to work things out for themselves.
Don’t snatch the toy off your child yourself! This will only confuse them as it’s pretty much doing what you are telling them not to!
Lead by example! Don’t forget children learn behavior from those around them too. Talk to your child about sharing, how it makes you and them feel, for instance, do they feel happy when mummy shares her biscuit etc?! Once this concept is grasped get used to showing how very happy you are to receive, a half eaten soggy biscuit or chewed teething ring from your smiling and sharing toddler!
If you are hosting a play date at your house, explain to your child before their visitors come, their friends will want to play with their toys, just like they themselves, like to play with their friends toys at their houses. Top tip! Maybe put away a particularly favourite or brand new toy away before the guests arrive.
Please share your tips with us! We would love to hear what you find works best.