One moment your toddler couldn’t care less who plays with his toys, and the next he’s howling at anyone who touches his teddy. This is a situation that perplexes most parents, and rightly so.
Sharing is a lifelong skill. The sooner your toddler starts grappling with it, the better. As such, two questions of utmost importance must be answered; why do children behave this way? And therefore, how can you go about teaching your child the value of sharing?
First and foremost, we need to understand the child’s behaviour and psyche – what is he thinking? At a basic level, we must recognize that children cannot be completely blamed for their unwillingness to share. The tendency to possess is a natural part of the child’s growing awareness and it is only normal that they form attachments to things and people.
In light of this, here are some ways that you can effectively teach your toddler to share.
- Lead by example
“A sharing family will have children who share,” said Dr Dale Hay, a developmental psychologist at the University of Cambridge. Instead of forcing your toddler into submission, set an example by sharing what you have with them. It can be simple actions like a lick of your ice cream or a sip of your fruit juice.
- Practise in a group setting
The cruciality of teaching how to share in group settings must not be undermined. This is when the notion of sharing can be reinforced with their friends and peers. Perhaps during snack time – where most toddlers have the tendency to snatch instead of sharing the food – you could cut fruits into pieces and place them on a plate, then pass them around saying “one for Julia, one for Emma, and one for Mummy”.
Another way this can be facilitated is through group games. For example, play “Share Daddy”. Place both children on each knee can teach them to share their special person. This ensures that children are able to experience for themselves that people share in different situations. Hence, allowing them to apply this skill better and in more ways.
There may be some of his favourite toys that your toddler may not want to share, and it is understandable. Let him put a few of them away and encourage him to choose some other toys that he is happy to share when a friend comes over. You can even create a ‘share mat’ for all these things! What matter is that he starts to realise that playing can become more fun when he is sharing his toys with others.
Consistency is key. Once you start showing your toddler the sharing ropes – for instance the ‘snack time’ example provided earlier – try to repeat it to reinforce the notion of sharing. This would gradually normalise the phenomenon for your toddler, thus encouraging him to do the same.
Positive motivation is also necessary. Whenever your child participates in the act of sharing, commend him! However, you must take note that over-doing it might be undesirable as he might seek to share only for the praise that awaits him afterwards.
In a nutshell, always remember to reinforce the concept of sharing with our children through positive encouragement and our daily activities with them. Who says teaching your toddler has to be difficult? Show them that sharing can be fun!
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About the Expert: Ms Xaviera Lim
In her role as Cluster Principal at Kiddiwinkie Schoolhouse, Xaviera is involved in branding management, and all operational matters, including service assurance and adherence to licensing regulations for all centres. With a degree in Early Childhood Education (Honours) and a Diploma in Early Childhood Education (Leadership), Xaviera also serves a mentorship role to all principals at Kiddiwinkie.
As an advocate for pre-school education, Xaviera believes that education should always be relevant to a child’s existence; constantly evolving to meet future challenges.