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Sharing: My toddler doesn't want to share

For toddlers, sharing is often difficult because they haven't developed an understanding of "ownership," "tomorrow," "enough" or "feelings."

  • Ownership: Children are just beginning to use the word 'mine' and they do not know the difference between "mine" and "yours." Young children feel threatened when other children are touching their valued items and toys.

  • Tomorrow/future: Young children might not understand that a toy will be returned at a later time.

  • Enough/numbers: Children might not understand that there are enough toys for everyone.

  • Feelings: Children are beginning to learn that others have feelings too. You can encourage this by teaching your child about his own feelings (for example, by labelling and identifying feelings) and talking about the feelings of others.

Remember that children want to interact with others, and are beginning to learn how to play cooperatively. This process takes time and patience. Here are some strategies to minimize conflict when your child is learning to share:

  • Teach by example and model sharing with others.

  • Put special toys away if other children are coming over.

  • If your child won't part with a toy, encourage her to share another item.

  • Meet in neutral territories such as parks or playgrounds.

  • Avoid situations with too many children.

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