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When your toddler refuses to share his favorite toy he isn’t really being selfish. He’s just acting his age. Sharing is a skill he’ll develop over several years. In the meantime struggles over toys will be common.

Teaching children to share is a hard task. But by taking it in stages and bringing empathy for the child’s view to the fore parents can build domestic peace, according to Henry Karp MD, author of “The Happiest Toddler on the Block.”

Children and fairness

Most children don’t understand the concept of “mine” and “yours” until they’re 3 years old. But toddlers, Karp says, “come with an innate sense of fairness, though it’s not usually quite in line with adults. With adults it is 50-50,” he says. “For toddlers it is more like 90-10. Here I’ll keep 90% and I’ll give you this one little toy.”

The first step, before jumping in to correct a child, (as most parents tend to do) is “to acknowledge the needs and the desires of the child.” Karp says, “When we just drop in and try to solve it, that doesn’t feel good. Children need to know that their desires are appreciated and respected.” And when your kid successfully shares a toy, reward the behavior with an enthusiastic high five or “nice job”. Even better, Karp says, “adults can give voice to Elmo telling a stuffed bear about the child’s behavior.

“We all pay more attention to what we overhear,” Karp says, “Children will appreciate the third party compliment. This technique might just leave you giggling together, which is good for everyone.”

Sharing Strategies

· Make sharing fun.

Teach your kid some cooperative fun games in which players work together towards a common goal. Share projects, share work, watering plants, sweeping the floor, unpacking things etc. At times give him some toys to share with his friends now and then. It can be a snack or some stickers occasionally will be fun.

· Prep for play dates.

Let your children choose some of their prized possessions to set aside before other children come over. Siblings, especially brothers or sisters can have some toys designated for them.

· Make it clear.

“Kids get a better sense of what you want if you use the term “taking turns”, Karp says. “ They have learned to take turns in infancy through babbled “conversations” with care-givers,” he says. Explain the toys work the same way everyone gets turn.

· Talk it up.

“You can notice and point out sharing in day today life,” Karp says. “Look at that man, he’s sharing the bread with the birds,” Pointing out what other people do is” Kemp says “an effective way of planting the seed.”

· Don’t punish stinginess

If you force, you will foster resentment not generosity. To encourage sharing use positive reinforcement rather than admonishment.

· Teach your youngster to problem solve

If your child and his friend are in a death grip for a toy, encourage them to take turns. Sharing is not the same as giving away, make them understand.

· Respect your child’s things.

When your child finds out his things are being man-handled by his younger friends, he will be very reluctant. He won’t be any mood to share. So whenever you take or plan to give his buddies any of his toys or books ask his permission. Give him the option to say ‘no.’ makes sure siblings, baby sisters and others in the house respect them.

· Lead by example.

Learn generosity is to witness it. Share ice cream, offer him scarf, and ask if you can try his hat. Use the word, “to share” to describe what you are doing. Let him see you give and take, compromise and share with others.

Author: TxNaturalPediatrics

By training, I am a American Board Certified Pediatrician. But in my younger years I grew up with natural alternatives. As a mom I have tried to incorporate both for my kids and it has worked wonders. And finally, as I am studying natural & alternative medicines, I realize the beauty and wisdom of living closer to earth. Hence in my practice I integrate both...for acute ailments I follow American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation but for simple and/or chronic conditions I prefer natural alternatives. In western training we were raised to think that "health is the absence of symptoms and problems". But eastern sensibilities has educated me that "Health is state that allows one to use the full capabilities of their body, mind and intellect. Therefore, healthy living is a balanced state of well being: physically, mentally, socially and spiritually." This implies that healing is not a "one-pill-fits-all", but a personalized experience.

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