You can help your toddler learn to let others play with her toys

Teach Toddlers to Share Image - Masterfile

Toddlers are not natural-born sharers. It is something they learn as they develop awareness of others—and you can help.

"If you want to teach your child about sharing, find natural opportunities to demonstrate how to do it," says Cathryn Tobin, M.D., author of The Parent's Problem Solver. "For example, show your child and her friend how to take turns mixing cookie dough or, as they get a little older, help them take turns playing a board game or hopscotch."

Also, try to see things from your child’s perspective—toddlers think sharing means giving a toy away forever. "Toddlers have difficulty understanding the concept of sharing," says Pamela High, M.D., professor of pediatrics at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University in Providence. "At this age, they're developing a sense of ownership that is important to their identity."

If your child gets upset when asked to share, talk through the situation: "I know you want your toy, but so does Jimmy. Can he have a turn when you are done? You will get it back after that." Then, if your toddler does share, praise her. And know this: Thanks to your lessons, her possessiveness will pass.

From REMEDY Kids, Fall 2010

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 17 May 2011

Last Modified: 06 Nov 2014