Allow your toddler to keep some special toys for himself.
It's your turn to host a weekly neighborhood playdate, allowing parents to visit while a group of rambunctious toddlers play with toys on the floor. Out of nowhere, you hear the sounds of your toddler and another child scream as they pull on a plastic train. You walk up to your toddler and automatically utter the phrase, “Share with your friends.” It may seem like a simple concept to you, but to a toddler, these four words are completely foreign. Teaching your toddler to stop fighting over toys and share involves plenty of social interactions, positive reinforcement and setting good examples within your family.
1Provide your toddler with positive examples of sharing at home. For instance, share your plate of pasta with your spouse or relinquish control of the remote control to a teenage sibling. Showing your child that sharing is fun, and makes both parties feel good, will help get her excited to share toys as well.
2Identify toys that are special, sacred or most likely to trigger an argument. Put these toys away before hosting a playdate, or in the case of siblings, allow the toddler to keep these toys for himself. According to Dr. Sears, allowing toddlers to form healthy attachments to both items and people is integral to future development, especially if that toy provides comfort to the child.
3Introduce toys and games that require multiple players. For instance, sit your toddler down with another child and show both how rolling a ball back and forth or playing a simple game with a deck of cards is more fun with two.
4Reinforce sharing to your child throughout a playdate or interactions with other siblings. For instance, if your child is playing with a baby doll, tell her it's time for a friend to take a turn, and introduce an alternative toy. Allow the other child to play with the baby doll until she is finished, and give it back to your child. Your child will learn that her possessions will eventually come back to her. If there's conflict, address it by reinforcing the idea that sharing is a positive, fun way to play with her friends.
5Provide multiples of a popular toy. This doesn't need to be an expensive venture, but when hosting a playdate, give the kids more than one of an inexpensive toy, such as a ball or hula hoop. This cuts down on fighting and allows your toddler to play with other children in a conflict-free environment.
6Set a “sharing” timer. Allow your child to play with a particular toy for a set amount of time before encouraging him to share. Once the buzzer sounds, give the toy to another child, while reassuring the first that the object in question will eventually return. This method not only teaches children about sharing and patience, it also introduces the concept of delayed gratification.
- Schedule several playdates for your toddler. Not only does this provide plenty of healthy social interaction, it also gives you the opportunity to reinforce lessons about sharing.