Jack Johnson does a wonderful job of serenading both children and parents with his melodic mission of sharing, on his cd Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies for the Film Curious George. Ahhh…If it was only that easy. While many families work to instill in their baby or toddler the importance of sharing, fights have broken out over who is going to push the baby stroller, ride the Rody or “borrow” the ball.
For those who have visited The Children’s Museum on any given day, you will bear witness to your children’s own version of “Kiddie Fight Club.” Of course it goes without saying that no one ever talks about it, but many a mortified Mom has left shocked at the pushing, shoving and “rough housing” their perfect little princess has caused merely because a fellow “friend” has had the odacisty to invade their play space.
So how do you gently remind your little munchkin that muscling their way through the museum may not be the best way to make new friends. Your baby or toddler may not fully understand the concept of sharing, so their behavior (while embarrassing or concerning to you) is completely “normal” and a natural part of their developmental process. That being said, there are ways to start to model for your munchkin, showing them “best practices” to emulate while laying the ground work for a more purposeful preparation for sharing when the time comes for them to better understand how to all “play nice in the sandbox.”
Carol Celaro, Brookline Mom, will once again shed her wisdom on how best to approach the toddler years. As a Child Development Specialist, with a Masters in Education, she teaches at Isis Parenting, at the Prudential location, and provides parents with some tips for how to teach your toddler to share.
Toddler age is marked by turbulence; so much is happening in their brain. But very few things stress parents out as much as sharing. You think your daughter is a diva, your son a bully, a hoarder, greedy and selfish. Non sense! It is all normal, because toddlers have a very egotistical view of the world and are fully immersed in the concept of ownership. They now get that things belong to them, but not ALL things… Along with these 2 concepts add independence and testing boundaries and you have the perfect storm!
See below for best practices on how to weather the mood swings and toddler tantrums surrounding sharing.
Tips to Hosting a Toddler’s Playdate:
Helping your toddler feel a bit better about not always getting his own way
- Model for Your Munchkin
Role model and use the word “sharing” when you are handing things over. For example, “Mommy I want the phone! Ok mommy will SHARE with you for a few minutes. But it is mine so I will want it back soon.” As you are eating, “here mommy will share a bit with you.”
- Mediate in Moderation
Respect his ownership of certain things. They don’t have to share everything every time. If you have a planned playdate in your home, have your toddler help you select some of his favorite toys to keep in the closet as things he does not have to share. However, establish that everything else needs to be shared with the other children. When out, such as at the playground, give him the choice. If a child asks to ride his bike, ask your child IF he wants to share for a few minutes, help cheer on the other friend, etc. But know that it is also ok if your toddler chooses not to share at that time.
- Simply Don’t Snatch
Don’t snatch things out of your toddler’s hands, especially if he just snatched it from some one else. If you are telling him it is no ok to snatch then you shouldn’t do it either!!! Instead gently open your toddler’s fingers and loosen his grip as you explain “this does not belong to you and it is not ok to just take it from some one else. Let’s give it back and ASK if we can have a turn soon.”
- Foster Friendly Behavior
Always acknowledge ANY sharing efforts, even if it is just showing; clap and cheer him on!
- Create Concret Concepts
Use a kitchen timer to help make concept of time more concrete. “We are going to share for 3 minutes. Let’s turn the clock on. When it rings she will give it back to you for another 3 minutes.”
Please remember, true sharing-when children willingly and promptly share with one another without adult intervention- does not really begin until about the age of 4 years old. At that point they become cognitively able to see from other’s point of few, empathize and care. Until then keep up the good humor…
Toddlers’ Rules of Possession:
- If I like it, it’s mine.
- If it’s in my hand, it’s mine.
- If I can take it from you, it’s mine.
- If I had it a little while ago, it’s mine.
- If it’s mine, it must NEVER appear to be yours in anyway.
- If I’m doing or building something, all the pieces are mine.
- If it looks just like mine, it is mine.
- If I saw it first, it’s mine.
- If you are playing with something and you put it down, it automatically becomes mine.
- If it’s broken, it’s yours.