When it comes to playdate and toys, you may often find yourself playing referee. Help iron out the creases by encouraging your toddler to share
We’re all familiar with the phrase ‘sharing is caring’ but it’s tough to explain to a toddler why he has to share his most coveted possessions. Luckily, there are ways to help your child understand why sharing is fun and still help you stay calm and in control.
The importance of sharing
Tug of war dramas between toddlers aren’t nice (and can be a bit awkward if you’re with friends and their kids), so it’s much better for all involved if little ones are happy to share their toys.
‘With longer term development in mind, we all need to share turns and consider others’ views and preferences in life,’ says Liat Hughes Joshi, author of ‘Raising Children: The Primary Years’. ‘It’s all part of a child’s general social development and will be very beneficial when he’s at nursery or school and has to share more regularly.’
Keep language and instructions clear and simple rather than giving longwinded explanations at this stage. Try something like, ‘Now it’s Emily’s turn.’ Rewarding and praising sharing is a good way to encourage your toddler and show him he gets a good response from being generous with his belongings.
‘You need to be very consistent with explanations of what is and isn’t allowed,’ says Liat. ‘If you reward sharing and praise your child for doing it, never offer the treat if your toddler hasn’t behaved in the right way as this completely undermines the reward system.’
Try a range of sharing tactics in different situations, too.
Keep language and instructions clear and simple rather than giving longwinded explanations at this stage
Dealing with a refusal to share
Prepare yourself for those frustrating moments when your toddler stubbornly refuses to share. If you've previously said 'if you don't share I'll take the toy away, or we won’t go to the park’ then you must stick with that.
‘Use simple language and explain what you want your child to do,’ says Liat. ‘For examples, say something like ‘Tell Emily that you are sorry and let her play with your toy for the next 10 minutes.’
Resolving sharing-related conflict
Toddlers are too young to sort out their conflicts on their own, which means that it falls to you and the other parents involved.
‘Should your child do something really inappropriate, such as hit another child, then remove him from the situation,’ says Liat. ‘Take him outside to calm him down and explain very clearly that hitting is wrong in a firm and authoritative voice.’
Although proceed with caution when it comes to disciplining other children – their parents might not appreciate it!