Learning to share is a key part of your child's development. It teaches them the importance of making friends and playing with them, negotiating, fairness and cooperation. It also shows them that if you give a little then you will get something back!
It's a key component of interaction when it comes to starting nursery and going to playdates, so here's some tips on how you can make sure that your little one knows how to share.
Incorporate into daily life
Children learn from what they see and experience in day to day life, so it's important that you try to show your little one the importance of sharing whenever you get the chance. You can point out positive things, such as "when you share your toys with your friends, everyone gets to have fun", and "that was kind of your friend to share their toys today".
Playing games that require taking turns is also great, for example taking it in turns to place bricks on a tower, or even hide and seek. When they show that they can step back an allow other people to take a turn, make sure that you praise them for it too!
You can also build up the anticipation of sharing before you go out. If you have a playdate scheduled, you can say something like, "when your friend comes over later you will need to share your toys with them, shall we choose some that you can play with together before they come?". This way they are involved in the decision making, and it won't be a horrible surprise when their friend reaches for their favourite toys.
Is sharing an issue?
Some children find it difficult to share, so it's important that you stay nearby to monitor playtime when your little one in in a group. This way, you can encourage them to let others have a go, and give them a big well done when they have displayed good sharing by telling them exactly what they did well.
Don't avoid playdates! Instead use them as a learning experience, and you can even introduce consequences for children that struggle to share. If your little ones are fighting over one particular toy, you can take the toy away from both of them for a few minutes, so that they both know that it's not good to fight. This way, they can both see what needs to be done in order to get the toy back - they must work together in order to be able to have fun!
You can't expect your child to understand sharing straight away. At age two or three, they are only just learning to handle their emotions, so tantrums are completely normal and expected. There's no simple way around this, other than to persevere with the positive affirmations and encouragement when they display the right signs of sharing.
As they get a bit older, you can begin to talk to your children about how other people might feel when they don't share, and this might be more constructive for them.
It's also important to know that it's ok for your little one to have toys that they don't want to share with anyone else. They might have a favourite teddy bear or special set of lego that they want to play with alone, and don't feel comfortable letting other people have a go at. If this is the case, just make sure that these toys are kept out of reach when other children are over, and explain to your little one not to get it out if they don't want anyone to play with it. After all, we wouldn't want other people looking into our phones or reading our personal diaries, and for your little one it's the same concept.