Often parents leave a playdate or family gathering red-faced after a massive flood of tears over a toy.  Why can’t my toddler share toys with a friend, she is great with sharing her food with me at home.

Good news, toddlers are self-centered, and this is no reflection of your parenting skills – this is a developmental journey.

Just as walking and talking are development milestones which are built by a series of smaller steps, such as a baby rolling from tummy to back, then crawling, standing and finally walking.  So is sharing.

In the toddler phase of your little one’s life, she is testing all the rules of the sense-of-self. The idea that things can belong to other people is difficult to understand, when they are at home – everything belongs to them.  Toddlers have no idea of time, therefore only understand that if I have this in my hands it belongs to me, instead of my friend will play with this car now and give it back to me in a few minutes.

It is during this socialisation phase that toddlers develop the skill of sharing, it is important to keep in mind that our children have different personality types, which means they handle the sharing dilemma differently.  An assertive toddler will make a big fuss about taking what belongs to her – even force you to leave the situation – where an introverted toddler will retract from play and choose to sit on mommy’s lap or increase spacial distance between herself and the friend, instead of playing with something else.

A few tips on how to help your toddler develop the skill of sharing.

  • Encourage empathy, taking turns and cooperation.
  • Your toddler is learning, don’t stop placing them in situations where they have a learning opportunity to share. Remember not to force or scold them when things don’t go as planned.
  • If intervention is needed, distract your toddler with a different toy.
  • Before a playdate, pack away your toddler’s favourite toys to prevent unwanted outbursts.

Franchise Owner – Clamber Club Toddlers Lynnwood