Help! My kid refuses to share their toys!
Does your child refuse to share their toys at a playdate? This is a common problem parents of toddlers complain about. Read more about this and find ways to encourage your toddler to share.
Have you ever hosted a playdate so your toddler could mingle with other children, only to hear them screeching, “Miiiiine!” every time another kid takes one of their toys? Feeling rather embarrassed, you probably respond by gently teaching kids to share their toys. But what if it happens again? What do you do?
Panic not, mummy! Although it is easy to feel disheartened about your little one’s seeming lack of social skills, be assured that you are doing the right thing by encouraging your child to socialise. Yours isn’t the only child out there who has difficulty sharing.
The reality about kids and sharing
Sharing doesn’t come naturally to young children. It is a skill that will take time to cultivate. But rest assured, it is possible!
Babies and toddlers usually think that the world revolves around them. Therefore, they find it quite challenging to share what is theirs — their toys, their food and even their parents. Like most other social skills you have to consistently encourage them to share.
Kids need to be ready to share
A child between the ages 0-1 ½ will play mostly by themselves. At this age, they cannot comprehend sharing. From 2-2 ½, kids will do parallel play, i.e. play side by side with another child. They may also start to understand the concept of sharing with your help.
From 2 ½-3 years, children often play together. They may already understand how to share and usually do not need to be reminded to do so. After the age of 4 or 5, kids are much more sociable and show preferences towards certain friends. In order to strengthen these friendships, they share their things quite willingly.
Teach by example
We all know that young children love imitating what we adults do. Therefore, one of the best ways to teach your little one about sharing is to share things yourself. Of course, it would be best to involve the entire household.
When everyone around him offers to share their food and other things, your child will start growing comfortable with the notion of sharing. Eventually, extending the same courtesy to other children will come naturally to him.
Use positive reinforcement
When your toddler responds positively to your attempts to teach him to share, acknowledge his efforts, saying “Thank you for sharing your toy with me, I really enjoyed playing with it.” Always remember to use the word ‘share’.
The same goes for when they are in the presence of other kids. If your little one shares something with another kid, praise their actions. This will make them feel good about themselves and want to repeat the action.
Let your child have favourites
Kids are generally possessive of their favourite toys. If a friend picks that particular toy at a playdate, it could lead to a full-on tantrum. One way to avoid this is to let your child hide his most precious toys before he has company. After his favourite toys are safely tucked away, explain that everything else is for sharing.
Another way to avoid playdate tantrums is to organise an activity. Some of the activities I organise for playdates are finger painting, arts and crafts or cupcake decorating. They are always a hit!
Toddlers and tantrums go hand in hand. So even if your efforts to teach sharing are not yielding desired results, be patient. Punishing or yelling at a toddler who is not willing to share is a futile effort. When faced with a tantrum, especially if they are beyond being reasoned with, divert their attention. Show them a similar toy or take them away from the other kids so they can calm down.
Remember, just because your child is not willing to share his things it doesn’t make you a bad parent or them a bad kid. With ample patience and persistence your efforts will pay off!
Do you have any tips for teaching little ones to share? Please leave a comment below, we would love to hear from you!