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Teaching Toddlers to Share

Toddlers are in their own little world and they lack the understanding that another child’s feelings might get hurt if they grab a toy off them. They only think of things being theirs, neither yours nor ours. If your toddler is possessive, it doesn’t mean they are being selfish. Around the age of two, they are establishing their identity, pushing the boundaries and standing up for what they believe is right.

Most toddlers know the concept of ‘owning’ when they are over the age of two and a half, however they won’t fully understand sharing until they are three or four. Learning to share is part of your child’s development and will help them know how to get along with others when playing, which can help them make friends.

Here Are Some Ways You Can Help Your Toddler To Learn More About Sharing:

  • Introduce the concept of lending and borrowing, explain that when they lend a toy to a friend they will get it back and if they borrow a toy from their friend they have to give it back. Show them this, by borrowing their teddy for a few minutes and then give it back to them. Lend your toddler your keys and then ask for them to return them to you
  • Don’t force your child to share something as this may make them believe their needs are not as important as others
  • Tell your toddler you know that sharing can be hard, being understanding can help them to share sooner
  • Set a good example, share your belongings with your toddler and allow them to see you sharing with other people
  • When your toddler is playing with friends or siblings don’t force them to give up their toys. Give them time to sort it out between themselves
  • Try to help them realise the benefits of sharing, e.g. if they are playing with a friend who lets them borrow a toy car, show them they can race each other which can be fun
  • Don’t share your little one’s toys on behalf of them, acknowledge that they own their toy and ask them for permission before offering it to one of their friends
  • Praise your toddler when they agree to share regardless of how reluctant they may be.

It is important to recognise that other toddlers may not have been taught the same way to share as you have shown your little one and this can end in tears and tantrums. As a parent you can help them by being supportive. It is important to be present initially when your toddler is playing with other children and as they learn more about sharing, you can slowly withdraw and allow them to become more independent.

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