How to Teach Your Toddler to Share So They’re Less Me, Me, Me

Share your toys Jimmy! NO. Aaaah toddlers, such adorbs yet fickle and fiery as Hell characters they are.

We’ve all been there in that social group where you’re begging your kid through gritted teeth to “share the toy”. They appear to understand and then proceed to snatch said toy from the hands of another and maintain a Hulk-like hold on the item.

Children bring SO MUCH JOY, they said.

We’re not born knowing how to share

First up, it’s important to know that sharing is a learned skill – and one that comes with age. Asking your two-year-old to share their toys or lunch is likely to fall on ‘deaf ears’. Not just because they don’t want to (and admittedly sometimes they just don’t wanna), but MOSTLY because they don’t know HOW. And so teaching your toddler to share is important.

women and toddlers playdate, toys, lounge room

And so, here are some tips and toddler sharing activities to help loosen that sturdy grip and teach your toddler to share…

Of course, it’s all a learning game and the more we expose toddlers to the art of sharing, the more prepared they’ll be (with any luck) to share with others from around the age three or four.

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Practice taking turns

Practice taking turns during play with your toddler. Taking turns instills that feeling of waiting, rather than missing out. They’ll learn that they WILL get to have another go with the toy, they just have to wait. Patience is a virtue remember and a toddler with frequent FOMO isn’t a walk in the park. Distract them with something else while they wait so they’re less focussed on what they’ve given up.

Praise like there’s no tomorrow

Don’t underestimate the power of positive praise to a little person EVER. Telling your child they’re SO GOOD for thinking of others and willingly (hopefully) sharing with others will go a long way. Remind them often that you’re SO proud of them, they’re SUPER clever, such a good boy/girl for sharing as it reinforces good behaviour. Lay it on as thick as peanut butter and it will stick.

Model excellent sharing yourself

Monkey see, monkey do. It’s said that children only know and learn what they SEE at home. So just to be on the safe side, be an EXCELLENT sharing role model. When your tot swipes your favourite biscuit from your tea saucer, be quick to point out SHARING IS FUN (even when it’s not). Warning: Your other half will cotton on quickly to this, asking you to share your post-dinner treat to which he knows you will have to say OF COURSE instead of NO, IT’S MINE. Just be prepared for that one…

Don’t shame a non-sharer

Again, remember your toddler might just be too young to get a grip on the concept of sharing. Sure it can be embarrassing, especially in social situations when your kid refuses to share, but resist the urge to tell them off or shame them for not giving something up. Find an alternative to solve the situation and move on. Huzzah!

Resist a sharing meltdown by removing temptation

If you’re going on a play date and you know your little one is going to want to take her MOST BELOVED AND TREASURED POSSESSION (whatever that may be – a rock, a stuffed toy, a toy car) and that it’s also very likely other kids will also want to play with it, leave it at home, in the car or put it away.

Fun activities to help you teach your toddler to share (and flex the sharing muscle!)

  • Share a slippery dip slide. Take it in turns to climb up the ladder and go down the slide.
  • Share a morning snack. Fill a bowl with pieces of different fruit and take turns in picking them out to eat.
  • Share a lift-the-flaps picture book. Double the sharing by sharing a couch AND taking turns to reveal what’s behind the page flaps.
  • Share everyday home tasks with your toddler. Let them have a turn in stirring a cake batter, giving out after-school snacks to others, sharing toys/possessions with siblings.

woman reading a book to toddler

Finally, this too shall pass. Your kid won’t always be a screaming banshee when asked to share, nor will they always violently snatch from others when they see something they want. It just takes time, patience and some guidance to teach your toddler to share through sharing activities and opportunities.

No, you can’t have my biscuit. Oh, go on then. SHARING IS FUN. Right?

Avatar of Lexi Klaebe

South Australian mum and self proclaimed foodie, Lexi can most days be found in the kitchen, apron tied firm and armed with a whisk or wooden spoon!

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