An Adult’s Guide to Teaching Toddlers to Share
Kids need to be taught things. That’s pretty obvious. But did you know that they need to be taught most things?
Babies are born with one skill: sucking. They’re born with two fears: fear of falling and fear of loud noises.
Everything else is learned.
That means they learn to chew, bite, match colors, recognize letters and words, speak, sleep, love, hate, and everything in between.
That’s a huge responsibility on the caretakers when you think about it.
Like, I have to teach my daughter (and sons) how to show people that she cares about them but also how to be assertive and show people how to draw boundaries.
Sharing is one of those things that falls in the middle. It’s a way for her to show that she cares about people and it’s also a way for her to say, “no.” Sharing and learning to share is really a great way for kids to vocalize and verbalize their feelings, thereby increasing their emotional IQ.
So, how did we figure out how to teach Serena to share? Below are some tips that worked for us.
We introduced the word itself when she was younger and just developing her vocabulary, sometime around 2 when she had learned some basic words to communicate with us. This was important because we paired the word with modeling. As you know, I’m a big fan of teaching children through modeling and repetition. When Sanj would share something with me (or if I told him to give me the remote and he gave it to me in front of her), I would always say, “thank you for sharing.”
As Serena become familiar with the word, we started practicing the behavior with her. This meant that Sanj and I put her in situations where we would ask her to share. When she gave us the toy and shared with us whatever we had asked for, we would celebrate and clap for that behavior. Obviously, we always said please and thank you!
This is still something we practice, especially because now she has to share everything (TV time, iPad time, toys, etc.) with two other people, we encourage patience. When someone else takes a toy that she is playing with or wants to play with, and she still wants it, we tell her to be patient. This leads to melt downs and we let them happen. Yes, we are those parents whose kids have meltdowns anywhere/everywhere and we just let them. Why do kids meltdown? Because they don’t know how else to vocalize the frustration they feel when something isn’t going their way. So, we teach them that it’s important to be patient and give them to vocabulary to express their emotions.
What are some phrases that we’ve used?
“He’s playing with the toy now, you need to be patient and wait your turn.”
“Since he’s using the scissors, let’s go find something else to do.”
“I know that you’re upset but you can’t hit anyone. You can cry and scream as loud as you want, but you can’t snatch or hit.”
Look, sharing is a thing that most parents struggle with as their kids start socializing. There is no secret equation or magic behind it; only guidelines and tips from personal experience.
But, it’s a part of growing up. So, it’s something they need to learn.