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For toddlers learning to share can be difficult. Why?

  • Toddlers function from a perspective of “the world revolves around me.” This is called “egocentrism.”
  • Toddlers are just beginning to understand the words “mine” and “yours” and may feel threatened when other children play with their toys.
  • Because they are not yet capable of comprehending the concept of time, it is difficult for them to understand that a toy will be returned in a little while.
  • Toddlers are also not yet able to understand number concepts; they may not understand that there are enough toys for everyone.
  • Toddlers are just beginning to understand that others have feelings too.

What can parents do to help?

  • Teach by example and model sharing with others.
  • Use positive reinforcement. When your child does share thank him and explain in very specific language exactly what he did that pleased you.
  • Share with your toddler. Allow him to have some of your food or let him help you with a task.
  • Put special toys away if other children are coming over.
  • If your toddler is having an especially difficult time with sharing, try arranging play dates in neutral territory such as a playground or park.
  • Do not punish a toddler for not sharing. You can let him know that you are disappointed and sad when he doesn’t share, but try not to give too much attention to it.

Remember, toddlers are just beginning to learn to play cooperatively. It is a process that takes time and patience!

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