7 Ways to Teach your Toddler to Share

Published on May 9, 2017


If I want it, its mine

If I give it to you and change my mind later,

It’s mine

If I can take it away from you, its mine.

If I had it a while ago, its mine.

If its mine, it will never belong to anyone

else no matter what.

If we are building something together,

All the pieces are mine.

If it looks just like mine, it is mine.

This appeared in the Syndicate Weekly newspaper article ‘Families Today’ by T Berry Brazelton and is a humorous reminder of normal toddler behavior.

“No! That’s mine” your pre-schooler yells at his playmate when his favorite toy is grabbed from him. Not only do they call their own stuff “mine,” every other thing that is liked by a pal also becomes ‘’mine’’. Difficulty in sharing is a common behavior for toddlers that can be learned by using few simple techniques.

1. Start young

The first step in sharing is to learn to take turns. This practice can be inculcated from the time your child reaches out for an object. You can start having playdates with your child wherein you can teach sharing by passing the object back and forth while saying ‘my turn, your turn.’

2. Balance sharing

The best way to get your tot to share is to respect your tot’s things. You can strike this balance by keeping some things only for him/her and asking permission before you use anything that belongs to him. This will definitely assure him/her that his toys will not be mishandled and it will let him to trust you to give his share or turn.

3. Make it exciting

Toddlers love it when you look excited to do something and they are likely to repeat the action to see your excitement. Play games with your toddler and pre-schooler that involves sharing and turn-taking. For instance, do puzzles, build blocks, plant the garden and give him/her things to share with friends.

4. Make sharing more concrete

While pre-schoolers are just learning to share things with friends, the concept is very abstract for toddlers. Know that sharing is learnt over time as children’s social emotional and cognitive development increases. What you can do is start focussing on reinforcement when your toddler shares anything during his/her play.

5. Use descriptive praise

When your child does share and take turns, make sure you praise the good behaviour. Always use phrases that suggests, sharing brings happiness. Give concrete details of what the child did and how it made you proud. Such reinforcement will help the child remember the acts and not just the praise.

6. Don’t punish doggedness/stinginess

Remember pre-schoolers are impulsive and they don’t have grasp of time. So waiting for his/her turn to play with his coveted toy is frustrating for him/her. You will have to handle such behaviour patiently and by using positive reinforcement rather than admonishment. Forcing to share something when he/she is really not ready to give up, will only leave the child in resentment.

7. Homespun values

The seeds of good values are sown right from the childhood. Display acts of generosity now and then. You can do this by pointing out good sharing in others and most importantly leading by your own example.

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