There seems to be a belief, or fear that toddlers are not capable of sharing. There is a fear it would create a negative complex about sharing, if we try to teach little ones how to share at such a young age. There seems to be a belief that toddlers won’t understand what it means when we use the word “share”.If this was practiced at home or with playmates with consistence guidance, the little ones would know what parents or teachers mean by the word “share”. Yes, coming from several years of caring for toddlers, I am a true believer that it is possible to teach toddlers how to share, by taking turns and offering choices.
I use the word “share” after toddlers learn and understand what I mean by “share”. This can happen with consistent guidance overtime in a group setting with a few toddlers playing together.
Generally, understanding the word “share” is not much different than understanding what we mean by words or phrases like: “Pet softly”, while we demonstrate how to pet a dog softly, “hold my hand”, while we demonstrate how to hold one’s hand, “kick the ball”, while we demonstrate how to kick with our foot. I’ve noticed many parents teach their little ones manners, by using words like: “thank you” and “please.”
If sharing is demonstrated appropriately, your toddler should know and understand the word “share” during playgroup, out on a play-date, or even while playing in a public setting with other children. While out playing with others, all he or she would need to know are simple reminders and prompting. Keep in mind, social skills for toddlers are completely different from social skills of preschool children and elementary age children.
I encourage you to read my article Social Skills and Sharing for Toddler Age Group to further understand how I teach toddlers to share.