How to Teach a Toddler to Share

Sharing is caring! Unless you’re trying to teach a toddler to share. Then it’s mostly painful.

We are currently going through a “mine” stage pretty hardcore. It’s so difficult to fight my instinct to grab whatever he is declaring “mine” over and say, “No actually it’s mommy and daddies. Everything in this house is ours and we are sharing with you. So, I could say MINE but that wouldn’t feel very good would it?!”

Okay, Okay not my finest parenting thought and don’t worry I haven’t done that (yet).  Some days it’s tempting because to teach a toddler to share takes major patience! I want my son to grow up to be a loving, caring and generous person so it’s my job to do the hard work now. Some days it’s reaaallly hard work.

I know that being a parent means teaching them the challenging lessons so I shall persevere(as I wave my fist in the air). Sharing is kind of a big deal and I want to make sure we set a good foundation.

Bellow I’ll walk you through why sharing is important, how to teach a toddler to share, sharing activities and my favorite…sharing books! 

Teach a Toddler to Share

How to Teach a Toddler to Share

Why Is Sharing Important for a Child

Sharing is a vital life skill. Your toddler is learning how they should treat others and how they want to be treated (ah, the Golden Rule).

It’s the basic understanding that I’m going to try and put someone else’s needs before mine. Then they get to see a glimpse of joy that they brought another person by sharing.

This skill helps them make friends and know how to treat people. Sharing is important for a child because you want them to grow up to be a kind, understanding and generous person.

No pressure mom.

How to Teach a Toddler to Share

Lead By Example:

During play time you can show them what sharing looks like, after all most of us are visual learners. For example: “Would you like to play with my truck? Here you go. I’m sharing by letting you play with my truck.”

We can’t assume they know what sharing is by ripping something out of their hands and giving it to someone else and saying SHARE!

As parents it’s our responsibility to teach them a new word and action by showing them what that looks like. Then eventual you can switch the roles.

When little junior is playing with a truck you ask, “May I play with your truck? Will you share with me?” More than likely he’ll give it to you. Even if it’s just for a second.

Related: Toddler Schedule That Make Your Day Go Smoothly

Full Disclosure this may not always go as smoothly as my examples. On a good day it does! On a bad day we end up doing time out a few time for throwing the object I was trying to get him to share or for talking to mommy in an unkind voice (one of my biggest pet peeves).

But, we still persevere! Then comes my next point…

Be Patient

If sharing doesn’t come naturally that’s okay and very normal. Just keep modeling the behavior that you want them to do.

Like I mentioned above things don’t always goes as planned and one of you might end up in tears or timeout or both. But, the important thing is that you are able to keep your cool and be an example to your toddler. Which is also hard at times!

Sharing is like a fine wine. It gets better with time and patience!

Then you…

Praise Them

Once they do share (especially if they do it on their own) throw that kid a ticker tape parade! Make a big deal about it because it is a big deal! They’ve willing given up one of their toys (for a little while) so someone else could play with it.

Sacrifice at it’s finest!

Point Out Good Examples

When you see someone else sharing make sure you compliment them on their awesome sharing skills, so your little junior can see what it looks like and knows that you are impressed.

Example: “Little Junior look at that boy, he just shared his dinosaur with his friend!” Isn’t that nice? I bet his friend really felt good when he let him play with his toy.”

Walk them through the emotional side of sharing. How it makes others feel and how it’ll make them feel in return.

Use a Timer

Using a timer is a great way for a toddler to see that they will not be without their toy forever. It’s a physical representation that they will get their prized possession back.

I realize this one isn’t great for when you are out but it’s a great way to teach it at home in a controlled environment.

Related: Toddler Restaurant Kit

Toddler Sharing Activities

  1. Draw Together – Sit down to draw together. Only have one crayon so you’ll have to take turns. Let the toddler begin. Then you ask for a turn. After you are finished give it back to them and say it’s your turn now. Let the toddler know you are sharing and it makes you feel good.
  2. Play Ball – Rolling it back and forth and telling your toddler it’s your turn, now it’s my turn. I love sharing with you.
  3. Share Food – Give your toddler a snack that he can share with you our friends. Then point out how happy it made everyone when junior shared with them.
  4. Digging in Sand – Tell your toddler you are going to dig together and that he can start. Then in a minute ask if you can have a turn digging. If he says yes, yay! Praise him and thank him for sharing. If he says no, tell him how it makes you feel and ask again in one minute. This is also where the timer could come in handy.

Teach a Toddler to Share with Books

As a former Elementary school teacher this is one of my favorite ways to teach any lesson…books!

I’ve found that books really spark their imagination and stimulate their curiosity. They give them more than one perspective and that’s what we want. For them to see multiple examples of what sharing looks like, how it makes people feel and how it’ll make them feel.

Here are my 7 Favorite Kids Books on Sharing:

How Do Dinosaurs Play with Their Friends? 

It’s Mine

Daniel Learns to Share

Share and Take Turns 

Sharing Time

Llama Llama Time to Share

I Can Share

Thank you for reading! I hope you leave here with some ideas on how to conquer the “mine” mentality! You got this mama!

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