As parents and caregivers, we envision our children growing up to be caring and compassionate individuals. What we never expect (even in our wildest parenting dreams) is to see our child hanging on to a toy truck for dear life, screaming like a wild coyote because they don't want to share it with anyone. As a result, the natural knee-jerk reaction is to automatically blame our parenting skills believing that we've somehow failed.
The truth is toddlers are at a challenging stage of their lives. Keen to assert their independence, the reluctance to share is normal. Why? Because they're still learning to control their emotions and sharing is a skill that has to be practised, it isn't something kids are born knowing how to do. In fact, some adults are still learning this important skill set!
But, while we all agree that sharing is an important character trait to encourage in our toddlers, often this is easier said than done! Most parents only have to think of the last time they visited the park to understand how difficult it is to extract a three-year-old from a swing without literally chopping the darn thing down. Unfortunately, learning to share can be a messy, frustrating and sweaty business –mostly for you, not your child!
However, frustrations aside, it's important to approach this awkward toddler behavior with patience, understanding, and a fail-safe plan! Today's Piper Finn blog post discusses the five important steps to follow when teaching a toddler to share.
5 Parenting Tips to Encourage Sharing and Positive Toddler Behavior
Lead by Example
The most effective way to teach a toddler to share is to lead by example. Toddlers absorb everything they see and hear around them. So, it's important to model sharing behavior in everyday family life. Make a point of highlighting the importance of sharing every time you share your belongings with your toddler.
This could be as simple as sharing a slice of toast with your little one or allowing them to look at your favorite book, use your special pen or play on your phone or tablet. When your toddler sees you sharing, they will be more likely to imitate your behavior.
Be Patient and Encouraging
Sharing is a new concept for toddlers, which can be overwhelming and frustrating. Being patient and encouraging as they learn this new skill is important. Draw on your positive parenting techniques and whenever your toddler shares, praise and acknowledge their efforts.
If they don't want to share at first, don't force the issue. Instead, encourage them to try again later and keep in mind that toddlers learn at their own pace.
When using positive parenting to teach your child to share, it's important to set boundaries. Establish a set of rules about sharing. For example, you could say, "We share our toys with our friends," or "We take turns when playing games."
By setting these boundaries, your toddler will learn that sharing is a part of their daily routine. Additionally, it can teach them valuable social skills like taking turns, compromising and problem-solving, which will be hugely beneficial when they start school.
Use Positive Reinforcement
Positive reinforcement goes a long way when teaching an excellent toddler behavior such as sharing . Reward your toddler when they share their toys or snacks with their siblings or friends. It can be something as simple as a hug or a high-five.
Positive reinforcement helps your toddler identify good behavior in themselves, which encourages them to continue that behavior. After all, who (adults included) doesn't like to hear they've done a good job?
*Top Parenting Tips:
Start a family star chart to celebrate every time your child demonstrates awesome 'sharing' behavior. Don't forget to put Mom and Dad on the chart, too, because sharing is a family affair!
Create Opportunities for Sharing
Creating opportunities for your toddler to share is one of the best ways to teach them this skill. Set up playdates with other toddlers or go to a playgroup. When your toddler is surrounded by other children, it provides endless opportunities to share their toys and snacks. However, don't expect their sharing skills to be perfect at first.
Instead, be ready to remind your child about sharing should things get a little heated and encourage them to be kind to others. Most importantly, don't become discouraged if your child takes longer than anticipated to grasp the concept of sharing; this skill is tough to master.
Sharing is Caring!
Teaching a toddler to share is a process that requires patience, encouragement, and consistency. It may take some time for your toddler to understand and fully appreciate the importance of sharing. And while this can be frustrating and, dare we say it, exhausting, remember to follow the simple steps provided in today's blog - lead by example, set boundaries, use positive reinforcement, and create opportunities for sharing.
By following these five important steps, you can help your toddler develop into a caring and compassionate child who understands the importance of sharing with others and exhibits awesome toddler behavior!