As grownups we know not to grab something from someone else’s hands or hit someone in the face if we don’t like what they say. Sharing and taking turns are important skills for young children, essential for making friends and playing cooperatively. Toddlers must develop these skills to become effective communicators and to be successful in school and later on in the work place. Learning to control impulse, waiting – and not grabbing – is a slow and gradual process that is tied to emotional development.

Toddlers and young children tend to be egocentric, this is normal. They need help to learn that everything is not “mine”. They may not initially know that when you take something away from them, they can have it back; they think it will be gone forever. So, it’s part of the parenting job to teach how to use their words and express themselves, so they can share and learn to be generous and kind.

Developing true friendships happens as children learn social skills, sympathy, empathy and altruism.  Toddlers will learn when you: pattern appropriate behaviors (like showing how to touch gently) and model (demonstrating what you want your child to do by doing it yourself). For social problem-solving skill development parents can teach children how to: call for help, trade, take turns and “use your words”.

A great way to do that is having a group play date in which children can interact with one another and with the parents, providing an environment of sharing and taking turns. Parents can do the following:

·       Use a timer – use a sand timer or clock for each turn;

·       Teach the children to say “I’m all done” when they are finished with the toy and ready to share and “Are you done?” when they want to play with somebody else’s toy

·       Don’t put out too many toys – it’s easy to practice sharing when there are many things to play with

·       Share a snack – telling children that “we’re sharing”


This week, we had great time with our Preschool Prep group learning to share our toys, playing cooperatively and sharing a great snack!

wrote by: Marilee Hartling & Paula Boscardin