How to teach toddlers to share

Watch Video: How to teach toddlers to share by Donna Holloran, MSW, ...
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How to teach toddlers to share

Parents ask me on a regular basis, "Can I teach my toddler to share?" And I usually ask them, "How hard is it for you to share?" First thing, most important – model sharing with your child. "Mommy's taking a turn, now it's Cameron's turn, now it's Daddy's turn." Let them see that you're sharing as well, and that's how they learn how to share, they learn by taking turns. Let's say you're sitting on the floor, playing with your child. And there's a little piggybank there with some little coins that go inside. Your child's putting the little coins in, and you're just hading them one coin after another. I always tell the parents, "Insert yourself into the turn." "Mommy's turn." And then you put your coin into the pig. "Brody's turn." He puts his coin in. Then you go, "Mommy's turn." And before long, they're handing you ones so it can be your turn. Another really helpful way to help children understand the concept of sharing is through turn-taking. So I'll encourage parents to insert themselves into the turn with their child. So if the child's sitting there on the floor, let’s say there's a little pink piggybank with some little plastic coins, the child's putting them in, I'll see the parent handing them one coin after another to the child. So instead say, "Mommy's turn." Hold onto one of those coins, put one in. "Brody's turn." Brody puts one in. "Mommy's turn." Mommy puts one in. Before long, your child's going to start handing you one. So now you can take that to… another little child approaches, "Can you give one to Sara? Can Sara have a turn?" Before long they hand it over. It's hard for children to understand the concept of sharing, because they think, “If I give it away, I won't get it back.” So this just takes an incredible amount of patience, but if you continue to model it, talk to them about your friends taking a turn, "It looks like Sara's taking a turn. Sara, when you're finished, Brody really wants a turn." "Sara, it looks like you found a teddy. Can you find one for Brody? Brody, do you want me to help you find a teddy while Sara has that one?" Children are listening and they're watching at all times. Before long, I can just sit easily back in my chair and say, "Sara, where's a teddy for Brody?" They look at me with these big eyes and they'll run off and get one for him or they'll hand the one over that they're playing. I tell parents, "Don't get too involved in this, because before long, they're sitting there, playing with the same toy. Or they drop the same toy and they run off to explore something else.” There can be a lot of big feelings that come up with this, but just be patient, stay in the moment with your child and before long, everybody can be taking turns with one another.

Watch Video: How to teach toddlers to share by Donna Holloran, MSW, ...


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Donna Holloran, MSW

Parent Educator

Donna Holloran moved to Los Angeles from Indianapolis in 1984 to pursue her graduate education and to continue building on her passion---working with young children and their families.  After attaining her MSW from UCLA, Donna also received a Certification in Infant Mental Health.  She practices as a parent educator and child development specialist. In 1996, Donna founded Babygroup in Santa Monica, California.

Babygroup provides guidance and insight to parents of infants and young children in small, intimate parent-child groups, inspiring parents to recognize and respond appropriately to their child’s developmental needs. Babygroup is also about developing strong friendships for parents and children, resulting in a true community of support.

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