Having problems with your preschooler not wanting to share?
This can be a very frustrating problem for parents in trying to teach their child how to share toys that belong to them. This is a social development that begins around the age of two. A two year old may not possess the verbal skills needed to be able to express what they want, so they cry, or scream out, “Mine,” that is the young child’s mind set, everything is theirs. It is not too early at this age to start teaching your child to share. As the child grows older and has a stronger vocabulary, they can be taught to use their words when they are having a problem.
I have found that when getting a child to be willing to share a toy, you can try and make a compromise such as offering an alternate toy or letting the child continue to play with the toy for a set amount of time, and then let the other child have the toy. Avoid taking the toy away or punishing the child for not sharing. This builds resentment and creates for an unpleasant play day. Eventually it may lead to your child not wanting to have friends over to play if he is always getting his toys taken away. Be positive in your interaction and encourage cooperation in taking turns with the toy.
It’s ok to allow a child to keep a special toy all to him self and not have to share it. As adults we don’t share everything we have with other people, so why should we insist that a child has to? A toy that serves as a security need, or a favorite toy, should be kept as a “special toy” that is not shared. If something happed to a “special toy” it would bring about a sense of real loss to the child. When friends come over have your child put the, “special toy”, up someplace safe that is out of the playing area or on a high shelf so it can’t be played with while company is around. There may be quite a few toys that become “special toys,” the first time you do this but, eventually it will be just a few toys. Then tell your child that all of the other toys are there for sharing with your friend.
During the play day when you hear “Mine,” shouted by your little one in conflict over a toy, take your child by the hand and show him that all of the “special toys,” are put away and that the other toys are for him to share. This works like a charm. Seeing the “special toys” that are put away reminds the child that they belong only to him and him only, so it is okay to let your friend play with the other toys. I have found that every time the child will become less interested in the toy causing the conflict and be very willing to let another child play with it. Should your child want to take out a “special toy”, tell him that they can come out later right now they are in a safe place. Then reengage your child in playing with his friend. When the playtime is over don’t be surprised if your child runs over to the safe place and takes out all of the “special toys.”
A variation on this strategy when it is siblings or other children that are all living in the same house is to set aside a special time to play with “special toys”, or to play alone for awhile in their own space. Again avoid negative actions like taking toys away or punishing. Allow the children to work out their own conflicts and help them come to a solution of their own. Using the “Special Toy, Special Place,” method gives an option for the child and makes the decision become their own. This is very empowering for a child and promotes good decision making skills.