Secrets to Get Your Toddler to Share

toddler sharing
It's Miiiiiiine!
If I had a nickel for every time I ran to my little boy, grabbed a stolen toy out of his hands, and handed it back to a crying toddler, all the while screeching, "Shaaaaaaare!" I'd be so rich. Of course, since I've been there so many times before, it's clear this method does not work.

I know toddlers are all about learning new words like "mine," going through a "no" phase, and generally being "terrible," but it turns out there are some successful methods to employ when your tiny one can't deal with letting go of her toys or trying to grab all of the ones on the playground for herself. As part of a talk I was sitting in on yesterday, Carol Bovill, the director of the Early Childhood Centers of Wilshire Boulevard Temple, gave us surefire instructions for toddlers on the art of sharing. Whoo-hooo!

Whether you're at home, in pre-school, or out on the town, here's how you get those kids to share.

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Sharing at Home

Eventually your toddler is going to have friends over, and those friends are also going to be enthralled by Thomas the Train. Before his buddies come over, ask him if he has any toys that he does not want to share. Take those toys and put them away, and announce to him that all of his other toys are free game for the playdate. If your hoarder is particularly stubborn, only attend playdates outside the home, and when he asks for one at his own pad, remind him that he only has playdates if he can share his toys. Lesson learned.

Sharing on the Playground

In advice given to a caregiver who couldn't convince her charge that she should be having fun like everyone else rather than screeching every time someone came to borrow her shovel in the sandbox, Bovill explained playground politics. First of all, your toddler is egocentric and could give a rat's patootie (my words, not hers) about what everyone else is doing. Instead, focus on what she wants. Before you head out, tell her she can only take toys to the playground that she will share. If she decides she's not sharing a dang thing, she can't bring anything with her. Eventually she'll miss having toys at the playground and will get with the sharing program.

Sharing at School

Luckily most of us can leave this to the pre-school and daycare teachers. However, the same principles apply and you can do your part at home. Remind your child that if he can't share something, he can't bring it to school. Ask him if he wants to leave it at home, in the car, or in his cubby if he's not willing to take his turn.

Sharing Everywhere

Even with preparation and ongoing communication, there will be freak-outs. So when your little one is crying because her friend can't seem to give up the walkie-talkie, do a bait and switch. Always acknowledge that she's upset and find an alternative. "You want the walkie-talkie? You can have it in a little bit, so what can we play with right now?" Repeat.

Do your toddlers share?


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