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When Your Toddler Doesn’t Share Toys

Toddlers often become upset when other children play with their toys. They see possession as ownership. They don’t understand the concept of sharing until three or four years of age. But you can plant the idea with statements, such as “If you share with them, they’ll share with you.” Try this approach:

• First, if your child doesn’t want to share her toys yet, don’t punish or criticize her. And when you go to the playground, only take one toy with you. When she’s not playing with, pick it up before another child takes an interest in it.

• Second, buy some separate toys that are brought out when other children visit you. Make it clear that these sharing toys don’t belong to your child.

• Third, if your child grabs someone’s toy away from them, return the toy to the child who owns it. Never let the more forceful child keep a toy she has taken away. If this misbehavior recurs, give the grabber a brief “time-out.”

• Finally, when you share your food or possessions with your child, point it out to her. And don’t forget her for any sharing she does.

During Dr. Schmitt’s 20 years as a medical practitioner and researcher, he has published over 100 articles or chapters on pediatric health care, and has been awarded the distinguished C. Anderson Aldrich Award by the American Academy of Pediatrics for outstanding contributions to the field of child development. Schmitt has also authored five books including Your Child’s Health, which won Child Magazine’s first Hall of Fame Award in 1991. Schmitt is also a professor of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and on staff at The Children’s Hospital in Denver, Colorado.


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