Teach your preschooler to share

Sharing is a learned behaviour and it takes time and patience to teach toddlers how to do it.

Sharing is a concept beyond the grasp of most toddlers, because to them it means taking something away. They are far more interested in finding out what it means to say ‘‘mine” rather than ‘‘let’s share”. Sharing is a skill learned as children’s social, emotional and cognitive development increases.

Here are some tips to help you and your toddler, from Canadian educator Betsy Mann.

Start young

From the time your child can grasp an object, you can teach sharing by passing the object back and forth while saying “my turn, your turn”. Learning how to take turns is the first step in sharing.

Be a role model

Practice sharing with your child at home and make it fun. Tell your toddler that you want to share the couch for a cuddle or talk about taking turns, while enjoying a special treat together, such as an ice cream.

Make believe

Play cooperative games that don’t involve a single winner, with children three years old and above. While competition isn’t bad, it isn’t regarded as appropriate for preschoolers.

Bring a pocket timer to play dates

Set the timer when the children start to play. When it rings, it’s your child’s turn to give a toy to her friend, then she gets it back once the timer rings again, and so on. This will help them to learn that giving something away isn’t final. It’s also wise to give the other child’s parent a heads-up before the play date, to ensure they’re on board.

Use descriptive praise

When your child does share, encourage them with descriptive praise. Instead of vague phrases like “You’re such a good boy”, say something like “Did you see the smile on Corey’s face when you gave him the truck? He really liked that”. This will draw his attention to concrete details of what he did and therefore reinforce the positive behaviour.