I was pleading my son when one of his cousin had come home. It was no fun watching my son shout ‘no’, ‘mine’ and grabbing a toy from his cousin. I wondered why he couldn’t share, even his least favorite toy. To get a sense of why he acts that way, I tried empathizing and to put myself in his situation. How would I feel if someone just entered into my room and grab a bottle of my favorite perfume. I would definitely feel upset and angry. And that's the emotion a toddler would go through if one of his playmate or cousin would grab a toy from him.
So, why your toddler can’t share?
Simply because, their brain lack the capacity, yet. It is perfectly normal that your toddler isn’t willing to share with his sibling or his playmate. There are reasons why your toddler can't share and below are few of them.
- They cannot empathize. The young child doesn’t understand what the other child wants or how he feels.
- They do not understand the concept ownership. They care about only themselves and their possessions.
- They are still learning to manage their emotions.
- Toddlers at the age of two have a very little sense of time. They don't understand past, present and future. Asking them to wait for a minute may feel forever for them.
Between ages 2 and 3 is when toddlers realize they are different individuals and act independently. They lack the socio-emotional skills to play together with other kids. But, sharing is a skill that has to be taught and developed from toddler-hood. Toddlers should be frequently and repeatedly exposed to the concept of sharing. It is very vital to their social and emotional development.
A toddler refusing to share is a developmental milestone. But, the habit of sharing has to be taught as it is very vital for their social and emotional development. It should be imparted at their toddler stage.
What not to do when your toddler doesn’t share
- Don’t force or punish - You should always be generous and patient when you are teaching you child to share. Encourage, but, never punish your child for not sharing.
- But, never teach them to be passive - Teach your kids positive assertiveness. It is necessary to teach them generosity but kids should learn to stand up for themselves. For example, if your kid is waiting for his turn for a swing in a park and his playmate pushes him out of the line. Teach him to respond calmly and confidently “It’s my turn now and you can get in the line after me”. If your child has not developed his language skills you probably have to intervene.
How to teach your kids to share
- Model sharing behavior - Children learn more from what you are than what you teach. Since imitation is powerful form of learning in kids, be a good model and share your own things with them. Demonstrate and let them know how it feels when you share your food and other things with the rest of the family.
- Empathize - When they learn to empathize, they spontaneously develop the skill of sharing. It is necessary that you acknowledge the desires and emotion of your child. When they understand that their desires and emotions are respected, they will begin to empathize with others.
- Practice taking turns - It is very essential to teach children to take turns. Introduce them to the concept of turn taking at home by including small games during playtime. Make sure the waiting time for their turn is less during initial stages of introducing the concept.
- Put away their favorite toys- It is okay for your child not to share his favorite toy. If there is a favorite toy make them understand that it shouldn’t come out of the closet until the guests leave. Ensure your child understands that the other toys outside are to be shared
- Appreciate their efforts - Recognize and appreciate when you see your kids sharing. Positive attention will instill the importance of giving and sharing in kids. When appreciating, talk to them about how he made you and the other kid happy when he shared. makes you and the other kids happy.
If none of the above tips work, give them some more time. When you think they are ready, be consistent, you will eventually succeed in imparting the habit of sharing.
"The miracle is this: The more we share the more we have."- Leonard Nimoy. Happy parenting!