5 Tips to Help Your Toddler Learn To Share

Sharing is one of the most difficult early skills to master. It can be so frustrating when you are trying to raise your child with kindness and compassion and you see him throw a fit because another child wants to play with his blocks. Take a minute to think like a toddler. His blocks are not “objects,”he sees these blocks as an extension of himself. He does not know that he will get them back. According to Tovah Klein, Ph.D., director of toddler development at Barnard College, toddlers do not master the concept of sharing until age two and a half or three. So what is a parent to do between now and then?

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Recognize the fact that sharing does not come natural and simply don’t expect very much at this age. Expectations are everything. You and your toddler will both be much less frustrated if you can think like a toddler and realize that “sharing” is not a concept that is understood at this point. Start talking about sharing and modeling it to lay the ground work, but don’t get frustrated if she doesn’t follow suit.
  2. Simply put the most coveted toys away when company comes for a play date. If there is a favorite fire engine that was a recent birthday gift, hide it away until after friends leave.
  3. Keep play dates small and free from intimidation.  Try to have play dates and not play groups if possible.
  4. Teach turn-taking by practicing this with your child when you are alone together. Pick up a toy and say “my turn” then play with it for a little while, then say “your turn” and hand it to him. Then after he plays ask for another turn. He may or may not be able to part with it, but you are laying the foundation of what is expected of him. Definitely praise him if he hands it over.
  5. Take the play outside. At a playground, park or backyard, there are less objects to share. Help your child have fun without toys.


Zero to Three, 2018

American Academy of Pediatrics

Murphy, J. (2004). The Secret Life of Toddlers: A Parent’s Guide to the Wonderful, Terrible, Fascinating Behavior of Children Ages 1 to 3. The Berkley Publishing Group. NY, NY.