Helping Toddlers Share

"Mine!" 

Parents of toddlers know this exclamation well. 

The first thing you should know is that your toddler is experiencing a very normal part of development. Even the most reasonable of toddlers will not want to share their precious things at some point. 

As embarrassing or difficult as this can be, don’t get too discouraged by their behavior and certainly don’t blame yourself or your parenting skills. Take comfort in knowing that this is simply part of your toddler’s development and is helping her prepare for her next stage of life. 

The good news is you can gently deter this situation even before it starts. Here are a few tips:

Distraction Technique - Distract your child with another toy or ask her to come and join you to play on the swings, etc. without making a big deal about sharing. This will often work as toddlers get bored quickly and she’ll probably appreciate the distraction. 

Nip it in the Bud – Anytime two toddlers are playing together, it’s best to keep a close eye on things. As soon as you see a potential situation about to erupt, dive in, and break it up. Tempt your child with a more interesting toy or show them a fun new game. 

If your child is playing nicely and another child is trying to take her things then distract that child. Find something similar or a close replacement to what your child has and offer it to them. Tell them how great it is, of course, but don’t overdo it or you’ll have two toddlers fighting over this new toy. 

Walk Away – If your child refuses to give back a toy, it’s time to take action. Gently pick up your child and walk away. Your child may kick and scream, but it's important to remember that you are in charge. Take your toddler to a quite corner and wait for him to calm down. Then give him a hug and explain that you know he really wanted that toy but that it belongs to someone else. 

Chances are, your child isn’t going to understand or accept the meaning of this but you’ve now diffused the situation and can continue to play happily. 

The Aftermath – After the fact, talk things over with your child and explain why it’s important to share, but be realistic. Most toddlers won’t understand the concept of sharing (or why they should do it) and all the talking in the world isn’t going to change that. 

As your child starts to mature, he'll better understand actions and consequences.

The best way is often to avoid and / or distract your toddler. This will help diffuse a lot of incidents before they even start.