Happy Mom Talk Monday!
I asked about a month ago on tips from you readers about teaching a toddler to share and how to go about it. I was blown away by the amazing advice, and learning experience you all taught me. I wanted to recap some of the responses from so many of you. At the end, I will share how we started to implement the “taking turns” concept and what has worked for us and things we do to teach in our home. I wanted to share a lot of the responses I got from my question because I feel that there are several different parenting styles and my hopes is that one of these ways of teaching will resonate with you. Of course some of you may disagree, but that is why I wanted to share several different attempts of sharing/taking turns.
Teaching Your Toddler How to Take Turns
- The idea of sharing makes no sense in the real world. No one walks up to me and asks me to share my sandwich that I am eating and expects me to give it to them. I didn’t feel like I should teach my kids that. I think waiting for their turn is great because it teaches patience and compromise. Teaching when it’s just you and him helps and then lots of opportunities to practice during play dates is what helped my kids. Honestly my oldest is 4 and he has to work on being patient with his two younger siblings
- With my first born I would teach him at hoe sharing with mommy. So while in his room or with his toys I would ask “can mommy play with this” usually he was busy with something else and I would say ” thank you for sharing, that is so kind” When he would try to take something from me I would say “here, mommy will share with you” As time went on I would just talk more about sharing plus reading books on sharing. I also did the same for telling the truth, cleaning up and just about anything I wanted to instill. It’s easier to start at home and coming together with friends where you are trying to teach the same kindness and manners.
- Model the behavior you want your child to do. When a child takes away your child’s toy – It’s always a little tricky/uncomfortable when it’s a strangers kids that takes his toy, but if that kid get’s away with taking your child’s toy, then your child is going to think it’s okay to take other kids toys. So if another kid takes your kids toy, tell the other kid “I’m sorry. He was still playing with that, but it can be your turn when he’s all done. Can you please hand that back?” You might have to take the toy back from the child because that child might not be good at sharing either. If that child gets upset, tell the child again “when he’s all done it will be your turn”. And then tell your child “When you’re all done playing with that toy, it’s going to be his turn.” You don’t have to put a time limit on how long your child plays with the toy before he gives it up. A lot of parents think sharing is their child giving another child a toy when the other child wants it. But that’s not how sharing works. If you have a pure that I like, it’s not like I can tell you “I want that purse” and expect you to give it to me right away. In fact, it’s okay for your child to have toys that he doesn’t want to share at all. But maybe those toys need to stay at home so they don’t become an issue with other kids. Although i assume what you’re dealing with is toys that are open for all kids to play with. — If a child wants your child’s toy and you’ve told them they can have it when he’s all done.. follow through with giving the child the toy when your kid is all done. Even if the child has moved on to playing with something else. When your child is done with the toy, walk it over to the other child and say “he’s all done playing with it so now it’s your turn”. If you don’t feel comfortable talking/taking back the toy your child was playing with from another child and the child’s parent isn’t doing anything about the situation you can tell your child that was not nice of him to take your toy. “He didn’t make a good choice” and then try to redirect your child to play with another toy. You can also guide your child on what to say to the other child, and have them say “I don’t like that. I was playing with that toy.” — When your child takes another child’s toy. If he takes another child’s toy, tell him ” the child wasn’t done playing with that toy. You need to give it back and when he’s all done it will be your turn.” Then ask the other child “when you’re all done, can (name) have a turn with the toy?” Most of the time the child will say “yes”, if the child says no, just reply “yes, when you’re all done it will be Edison’s toy” and tell your child “when he’s all done, it will be your turn, but you need to give the toy back and wait your turn.” If your child doesn’t hand the toy back, take it from him and hand it to the child. At this point your child will probably start crying and throw a fit. If he’s throwing a fit and try to grab the toy away from the child, move him/hold him tight so that he can’t grab the toy. When your child is calmed down from his fit (or if he doesn’t throw a fit at all you can say or do this right away), give hime choices. Tell him “would you like to sit on mommy’s lap while you wait your turn or would you like to go play with other toys while we wait?” Then whichever he chooses, praise him for waiting his turn. Tell him “I like how patient you’re being while you wait for your turn.” The other child might now come give your child the toy when he is done playing with it, so it’s your bog to be watching for the other child to be done and when you see that he’s done, go get the toy and bring it to your child and say “it’s your turn now. Thank you so much for waiting your turn. Now you can play with the toy.” Even if your child is happy playing with another toy, the follow through of giving him the toy he was wanting to have a turn with is so important. — (All this amazing information is from my friend Kacie from @elementsofellis, she shares some amazing pieces of advice about parenthood, be sure to follow her and watch her stories)
- Sharing is not a developmentally appropriate expectation for a toddler. Not even for a 3 or 4 year old. When my 2 year old is having a hard time, I narrate: “You really want the train. (other kids name) is using it now” or “it made you sad when he took the toy from you” usually the other kid picks up on it and makes some effort to return the toy. If my son takes something, I help him by asking him to return it to the other child by saying “I don’t think she was done using it.” if he resists, I say “I’ll help you” and physically help him give it back. Sometimes the other kid doesn’t care, at which point I don’t intervene because they’re done with it. Or if my son doesn’t care something is taken I just let the other kid go with it since my son is clearly done.
- At the age of two, my daughter couldn’t understand what I was explaining when she took another kids toy. After the incident, I took her toy in her hand and I said mine (I copied what she did) she was shocked and cried. Then I hold the toy up, (with a calm voice) I told her that that’s how her cousin felt when she took her toy and didn’t want to give it back. I asked her if she liked that feeling, and she said no. After that she was fine with sharing, although if she’s not in the mood she still does it sometimes, but not as bad as the first time. Now I only have to look at her and she gets it and will immediately apologize. When she’ll cry nonstop and fall on the floor, I just let her be and she’ll stop. Once he’s calm, that’s when I talk to her and explain what she did.
- One thing I have learned in teaching young children is that you can’t share until you feel that you have had enough. But you can narrate and start to develop empathy in your child.. Ex: “I see you’re playing with that truck and (other child’s name) wants it. What can we do? He looks sad?” Help your child look fo solutions with you. This young it’s really so abstract for them so narrating and modeling yourself are really your best bets.
- Children his age shouldn’t be expected to share. Most kids don’t fully understand the reasoning to sharing until 3 0r 4. At age two kids parallel play where they are in the same room but are not playing together with the same toy. If your child is playing with a toy he shouldn’t have to give it up. He won’t understand why he has to. Try if possible to give that other child another option and same if your child wants a toy another kid is playing with.
- My 3 year old shares and sometimes I have to remind him to use his words nicely if he wants it back. We also use the method of counting to 10. We are at the age where he will find less preferred toys and switch it. I always have toys with me because for some reason kids always want the other kids toy. Trade-sharing has taught my kid to share when he was younger. Role playing at home helps too.
- Read stories and books about sharing and when the time comes that he has to share remind him about the story.
- Teach him how to take turns. His turn, their turn. It makes it easier to understand sharing
- I say “Use your words” to ask for the toy rather than grabbing. They don’t “share” at this age so this has been helpful
- I don’t make my twins share. If someone has a toy, it’s simply “unavailable” to play with. If they take a toy I ask them to give it back and tell them, “we don’t take, we wait until he/she is finished”
- If some other kid takes my kids toy and no parent corrects that kid. I will tell the child that you can’t take toys form people but if you ask nicely we will share. Then I tell my child let’s have this kid have a turn and you can play with another toy. If my kid takes a toy I will give it back to the owner and tell my kid that you have to ask before taking toys. Then I ask for her and if the kid doesn’t want to share we move on and if they do hare I make sure my child only plays with it for a while and then we give it back. I practice “switching” with my daugther at home. Where I will give her a toy and she will give me one.
- I am going to start rewarding my kids every time they share and see if that helps.
I wanted to share a few things that really stood out to me. I really loved learning from you that sharing is not really something we do as people. I have started to enforce the “taking turns” option and found it super helpful! Another thing I have started doing at home after reading these responses is practicing at home. This has been the BIGGEST help. But it is generally easy for Edison to give up a toy to me verses another child, but overall it is the same concept so we keep practicing. I never use the word “mine” and try to never say it. I don’t want Edison to be that child who grabs a toy and says “mine”.
Another thing that I have found to be so helpful and the best way to teach is by having a play date with someone who has kids the same age as your child. While I was in St. George visiting friends and family my friend and I have kids 2 months apart. We both felt we should really practice and see where taking turn and sharing lied between them. I’ll be honest it was a bit of a mess at first. Both kids taking turns crying and being sad. But at the end of the night, they had learned to take turns, or give up another toy and move on. We were honestly so surprised at how teaching them something had officially caught on. Consistency is KEY to teaching your children, so more play dates and practicing at home it is!
Recommended Books to Teach about Sharing and Taking Turns
Other Recommended Sources for Teaching about Taking Turns
Daniel Tiger DVD on Sharing
App called Breathe which shoes kids how to control their emotions by breathing and looks for other solutions than crying.