Toddler doesn't want to share? That’s ok.

Toddler doesn't want to share? That’s ok.

It is our job as parents to make sure our children are establishing good relations with others based on respect and compassion. At the same time, we should not force a child to do something they feel is unfair. A child should not feel that other children needs are more important than their own rights. As with many things teaching children to share is a game of negotiation between self and others. 

Keep reading to learn why your child doesn’t want to share, and how you can approach and coach their sharing abilities in a positive way.

When does baby start to understand what sharing means?

Children start learning as soon as they are born. However that happens in stages and is constrained by physical and cognitive development.
As such, as they grow older, their minds get better equipped for even bigger milestones such as the concept of sharing.
First thing you need to know is that there's no need to try to teach your child before they are ready to learn.
Toddlers vary in their emotional development and some of them are ready to learn sooner than others. You can start to introduce the concepts of sharing in the game & play as soon as at the age of 10 months. At this stage, don't set your expectations on a specific outcome, focus more on observing your baby and his environment.
With time, you will notice that they will start picking up good sharing habits, both when borrowing and lending / giving. You can start assessing your baby’s sharing habits starting from 3 years. At that age, their minds are more comprehending the concept.

Why toddlers don’t share?

Sharing requires that someone to think and care about someone else’s feelings, wants, and needs. That’s why it is so hard for children because they see sharing as losing on their part. That’s mainly because they have not developed thus far yet. It doesn’t mean that they are selfish, neither does their non-sharing have to define them. The best we can do as parents is teach them about sharing both through words and actions. Set example yourself, as children are likely to follow your actions rather than words. Naturally, kids are self-centered, and that’s a normal part of their development process. Don’t mistake it for poor parenting or poor behavior in the child. If anything, it shows that baby is exhibiting normal development.

Is it ok that my toddler doesn’t want to share?

As a mom, you are probably worried that your child will continue their non-sharing habits into adulthood, and that will reflect upon your parenting skills or your child’s character. Try not to beat yourself up too hard about it. It is totally normal for toddlers not to want to share, their toys, snacks, and other things. Besides, as much as we want to encourage generosity in our children, it is important to allow them to be selfish sometimes. A little selfishness allows us to take care of ourselves for the sake of our emotional, mental, and physical well-being. The sooner our kids learn this, the better they will manage to take care of themselves.

How to positive approach sharing abilities and when?

Most times, our attempts to train our children about sharing backfires because we go about it the wrong way. Below is an example:

One child is busy playing with a toy, when another child comes up to them and wants to play with it as well. An adult is most likely to say to the first child, “Be nice and share your toys,” or “Give your sister the toy. You’very played with it long enough.” When the child gives up the toy, they feel bad because their play has been interrupted. As a result, they left that sharing feels bad. These are the results of traditional sharing training in kids. It expects that children give up something as soon as someone else asks for it.

The same scenario would be play out very differently if adults were involved. For example, if someone else came up to you to borrow your phone while you are using it, you’d expect them to wait until you are done before they can have it. Otherwise, you'd get really mad about it. As adults we want people to wait their turn, and the same should apply with children as well. Let’s train them to share through taking turns. As such, teaching them patience is a crucial part of the sharing training. Besides, the sharing training should start as early as possible. Babies understand a lot, and they take on the habits they witness around them everyday. So, as a parent it is important to practice generosity with your children and other people around you. If you don’t, remember that your child learns best from your behaviour.

3 year-old – the age when you begin to understand taking turns and sharing.

By age three, many children have started comprehending about sharing and taking turns. If not there yet, don’t despair; all children are different. Besides their natural development, there are many factors influencing their development process. Go ahead and help your preschooler by engaging them in conversation about sharing. For example, you can ask them how they would feel if someone else took their toy. Ask them how they’d feel if another kid didn’t allow them to have a turn. This is a great way to help them understand the emotions, wants, and needs of others, and improve their sharing skills at the same time.

Each child is different, which means that they all develop differently. Some times you may feel like your baby is taking way too long to understand about sharing and taking turns. Don’t get frustrated. Give it time and practice patience with them; they’ll get there eventually. Other times children seem like they are getting there, but suddenly it feels like they are backtracking. No need to worry about that either. It is a normal part of childhood development. The trick is always to practice patience.


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