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Sharing Problems: Getting Your Preschooler to Share

Question:

Whenever his friends come over to play at our house, my 3-year-old grabs toys from his play mates and calls everything "mine." Will he ever learn to share?


Yes, but it will take time and practice. By the age of three, a child can grasp the basics of sharing and taking turns, so you and Dad can encourage sharing by shedding some light on the reasons why behaving nicely matters. Explain that he'll make his friends happy by letting him play with the toy, and that his friends will more likely share toys with him at another play session.

To help your child tolerate sharing his toys with his visiting friends, it's a good idea to remind your child ahead of time that he'll need to share, then ask him to pick out a couple of toys that he wouldn't want to. Some toys, teddies or books are special to young children, so honor his decision and stow them in a closet before his friends arrive.

During the play session, you can also try introducing a few rules such as taking turns with a toy: Tell him that each child gets a turn to play with the toy, say, for three minutes, so "first, Sarah gets to play with the fire engine, then it's your turn." Or suggest trading toys, "why don't you trade for a while? You can play with the robot and Sarah can play with Mr. Bunny."

And remember, praise him whenever he does share something! Though he should know this is expected behavior, he should also feel good about doing it.

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