Five Great Tips to Help Teach Your Toddler to Share
Parents know that learning to share is a crucial life skill that toddlers and children need to embrace to create successful relationships as they grow older. Sharing teaches kids about empathy and helps them recognize that other people have needs and desires as well. As preschoolers begin to explore their worlds and recognize they are no longer simply an extension of their parents, they also begin to test boundaries. “No” and “mine” become popular words at this stage of their lives, and toddler tantrums can break out at any time. Here’s 5 tips to help parents teach their children that sharing can be fun.
- Teach through example: Parents are kids’ role models, so mimicking what their parents are doing is a crucial part of their learning process. Of course, it can be easy to forget to actively point out when you are sharing with your child but doing so can help reinforce how fun sharing can be. For example, you can share an apple or other piece of fruit with your child and point out that you’re sharing, and doesn’t it feel nice to be shared with? You can then ask them to share back.
- Praise kind behaviour: Be sure to offer lots of praise when your child does share with you or others. Let them know that being kind has made you or their friend feel happy. When your child is playing nicely with other children, let them know that you are proud of them for sharing. This reinforcement will help your child understand that being kind and generous feels good, and they will be more likely to repeat the behaviour in the future.
- Include toddlers in chores and family activities: By including your toddler in tackling household chores, you teach them that everyone in the family shares in helping to complete tasks. Activities like gardening or growing plants can also help children learn to care for living things.
- Play games that require sharing: Playtime is a great time to reinforce how much fun sharing can be. You can do art activities together like painting or drawing using materials that need to be shared. You can also ask your toddler to share ideas about which colours or materials to use for the project. Games like playing catch or kicking a ball are way more fun when everyone shares the ball and gets a chance to throw, catch or kick.
- Head off potential meltdowns: As important as learning to share is, we all have things that are precious to us. If you’re hosting a playdate and your toddler has a special toy that they cannot bear to let others play with, help them put the toy someplace safe so they can play with it later. Remind them that all the other toys need to be shared with their friends during the playdate.
Generosity, empathy and kindness help us bond with others and create meaningful relationships. Sharing won’t always come easily to your preschooler, but by helping them be successful at these small experiences, they learn that being generous can be rewarding.