Toddlers and Sharing

This morning we had a playdate at our house. The little girl who came over was 3 and my daughter is 2.9 years old. So, they are pretty close in age. Our guest has a baby brother who is 1 and my daughter is an only child. Needless to say, the sharing part of the playdate did not go so well. My daughter would shout “mine” and try to rip things out of her guests hands or not let them use something. Most of the time, our guest would go to play with something that, on any other given day, my daughter never touches.  Sometimes I could quell the situation by finding another like toy or item. Sometimes not. So I thought an article about sharing might be informative for all.

Taken from Consistent Parenting Advice website.

Toddlers find it difficult to share as they don’t have a strong sense of self or of possession yet. Think about it this way:

We suggest to our toddler that we go to the playground and take with us our toddler’s favourite toy of the moment – his truck, or cycle, or scooter. When we arrive a friend is there with her toddler. Immediately this toddler sees our child’s toy and grabs for it while out toddler screams loudly and holds on tight. “You must learn to share your toys”, we tell our little one, taking it from him and handing it to our friend’s child to play with. Now here we are at the playground with our screaming and unhappy toddler while our friend’s child is playing happily.

What’s wrong with this picture?

We have arranged the outing to the park and chosen which toy our child will have fun with, and yet we take it from him because someone else wants it instead.

How does this teach toddler sharing behaviour?

Let’s look at the same scenario again.

Off we go to the playground taking with us a chosen toy of the moment. When we arrive we meet with our friends and their toddlers. We tell our child,

“You have bought your truck to play with. It’s yours and you can have fun playing with it. When you have finished with it you can choose to share it with Tom and maybe have a turn with his ball when he has finished with it”.

Result: Contented children doing just as we had suggested when we left home.

Our toddlers need to learn that yes, that toy “is mine” first before they can learn how to share it. Sharing is a concept that is understood by older children and by adults who know the ground rules.

I often describe it like this: When I go to visit a friend and she offers me coffee and cake, I expect her to give it to me if I say yes to the offer. I would be rather surprised if she handed it to me and then removed it before I had taken a bite, offering it to someone else instead. And yet this is what we do often with our toddlers and children when we are around others.

We suggest they take their toy with them to play with and then we tell them they cannot play with it because another child wants it instead. If we gave them the time to play with it first, to really understand and experience their ownership of it, then they will learn how to share it much more easily. Our children learn to trust us, to understand self respect, and to see the value of sharing when we model sharing to them in this way.

Can you imagine how your child would feel if he were to hear you say,

“That’s your scooter and you can ride it at the moment. When you have finished with riding it you can choose to share it with your friends.”

Then you can say to the other child,

“Robbie is riding his scooter just now. When he has finished with it we would love for you to have a turn”.

Your child would feel your care for him, he would know you understand and he would learn that he can trust his own feelings about possession. As his experience and understanding around empathy grows, sharing will become a more natural activity.

There is more to the article, and you can read it by clicking HERE.


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