Why won’t my child share?

We’ve all heard the adage that “sharing is caring”. And chances are, we have all run into moments when our young child has had no interest in sharing.

Sharing is often considered the hallmark of social skills, but for toddlers and young children, it’s a challenging concept. Toddlers are in a stage of rapid development and the idea of sharing something that they care about – whether it’s a coveted train, a puppet or a tool in the sandbox – can seem overwhelming. When a young child is deeply engaged with a toy and hears “You have to share”, they will rarely hand the toy over without objection, tears or frustration. And that’s ok!

Rather than asking children to “share”, we encourage our Little Leos to take turns. Unlike sharing, which implies giving up something that you enjoy, taking turns allows children to have a clear structure of when it’s their time and when it’s time for their friend to play. This approach allows toddlers to build predictability and patience in social situations. 

In Little Leos, we explicitly model taking turns throughout the program. From our Good Morning song, where we go around the circle and sing good morning to each child while they await their turn, to our daily “roll the ball” game, to activities with our amazing sports, music and yoga specialists, the children observe and participate in concrete and manageable back-and-forth activities that ultimately lead to positive interactions. 

Taking turns empowers children by reinforcing the validity of their own wants and needs, while also helping them to build empathy for the wants and needs of others. The next time you feel tempted to tell your child to “share”, we encourage you to try something like, “you can have a few more minutes, and then it’s your friend’s turn.” This simple shift can make all the difference in helping your child build essential social skills.

by: Lisa Richler, Little Leos Lead Teacher at The Leo Baeck Day School

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