How to make your child share his/her toys?

One fine evening when I was strolling around the park and talking to a good friend, I heard some whimpering –turned around to see my son dueling over a ball with another kid.

Don’t worry this was a time when there was no lockdown and everyone was free as a bird.

My friend jumped over to her son’s rescue making sure no child is getting hurt and I kept observing my son on how reluctant he was to share his ball with another kid. No amounts of talking or good words were making him challenge his decision. He won’t even bat an eye for my “I-am-going-to-tell-your-dad” threats or consequences.

And that’s when it occurred to me on how painstaking it is for a parent to make a child share his/her toys or for that matter any of the child’s stuff with their other sibling. So without further ado, let’s jump right in:

  • Don’t Force:

Research says that babies are born completely egocentric i.e., they only know to put themselves first. They think that everyone feels, hears and sees exactly as they do.

Now digging more deeper into this, in the 1960s a Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget’s theory of Cognitive Development states that Children aged 0–2 years were in the sensorimotor stage; they had yet to develop the understanding of object permanence (that things exist even if you cannot see them) and we’re learning to recognize and interact with their environment.” (So next time when you see an adult behaving like a baby you could understand their cognitive ability and move on!)

So basically in layman’s language, it would be futile to make your 2 year old understand the concept of sharing. If they do, well and good but if they don’t you can encourage or use a few of the following methods as mentioned below but Do Not Force them because it might cause more damage than gain. As they grow older, when they interact more with their environment and as their cognitive skills develop they will understand the concept on their own. So for now just relax!

  • Playing Games :

Playing games at home improves their social skills.

For Example, give them a banana and say “Let’s share this banana, you can have half of it and the rest let mama have it”

Play games which includes 2 people, while building blocks you can use phrases like “you can collect the red ones and I can collect the green ones and let’s share them”

  • Turn-Taking:

Introduce the concept of turn-taking to your child. Children tend to think that they own everything around them and that’s why you can very frequently hear a child scream “mine, mine” in the mall or park or neighborhood. Some may even throw a tantrum to achieve what they want.

To avoid this habit, introduce the habit of turn-taking to your child at home. Use phrases like “You have played with your toy for quite some time now let it’s my turn and then again it will be your turn after some time”.

  • Creating Diversion :

Now, this is a tactic that always works with my son like a charm. My son has a temperament of finding new things in the house and sitting with it exploring and examining it for some time (touchwood! It leaves me some time for cooking and other chores).

So whenever he throws a tantrum for any specific toy or an object we generally tend to divert him by showing another object which usually is new for him or he wanted at some time but couldn’t reach for it. In short, we lure him into something else which we are okay with.

Word of caution for parents – Please do not leave any sharp or harmful objects lying around your house. Baby –proof your house as soon as they start crawling. Prevention is better than cure. 

  • Actions have Consequences

Jan as two kids and usually when they play along they both want the same toy or thing which puts Jan into a soup. Her solution to this is to take away the toy and let them figure out a way together to get the toy or play together without the mother’s intervention.

This is a very common scenario in houses with 2-3 kids, more often both the kids want the same thing making parent’s life tough. Teach them that for their every fight there is going to a consequence and it will be the same for every kid and let them figure out what to do next.

  • Do not be a Rescue Ranger  

Sometimes boredom is good. You have no idea how much creative they can get and also they need some time and space to figure out ways for engagement. I do not remember a time when my mother had time to sit with me and play along and sometimes that’s exactly what they need. Do not be a rescue ranger even in their fights.

Don’t indulge until it starts looking pretty bad but otherwise let them be.

  • Be a Role Model

This is no brainer that kids learn from their elders. They tend to emulate our actions and that’s why it is very necessary to walk the talk. Use kind phrases when talking to your partner and your child will definitely observe and learn.

  • Reward System

A concept of a reward system for good sharing habits can be introduced to older kids who are not willing to share their toys. This will work on children between the ages of 5-6 or above, even though many kids by that age learn about give-and-take.

Most importantly folks, do not worry about sharing skills, sooner or later they will learn to cope up with their environment and as their cognitive abilities develop they see the benefits of good sharing habits as well. In the meantime, you could use the above strategies and encourage good habits but remember every child has a different temperament and we cannot force our habits or thoughts/ideas on them without their willingness to accept.

Hope you liked the post, please do comment and let me know on your insights.

Signing Off!

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