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Doesn't Share

What to do:

Self-Talk. Say to yourself, "Although I wish my child would share, I know that all children have to learn how to share. It frustrates me, but I can keep calm while she learns."

Empathy. Tell yourself, "My child doesn't understand that getting along with others means learning how to share-toys, attention from those she loves, being first. I know how she feels. I don't like sharing sometimes, either."

Teach. Tell yourself, "I will help my child get practice in sharing...and help her experience how good it feels for her and for others when she shares with them. I know that she may not be ready to share at a very young age, so I'll keep teaching her the lesson until I see that she's learned to share."

Use Empathy. Ask your child how she feels when someone shares something with her-happy and thankful-and when someone doesn't share-angry and frustrated. Then pretend play giving-and-taking with her, so she can see how happy it makes you when she shares with you, just as it makes her happy when someone else shares with her.

Set Up Sharing Rules. Before friends come over to play, let your child know what's expected of her at group sharing times. For example, say, "When you put a toy down, anyone may play with it. When you have it in your hands, you may keep it."

Use A Timer. When your little one is saying, "Mine! Mine! Mine!", help her learn the habit of taking turns. Say, "I'll set my phone timer. When it rings, it's time for your friend (or sister, etc.) to have the toy. Then I'll set it again when it's time for you to have it back." Keep this sharing game going until the kiddos get tired of the toy or game and want to do something else.

Praise Sharing. Whenever you notice sharing, point out the behavior with your attention and smiles, saying, "I like the that you are sharing by taking turns coloring with the purple crayon," for example.

Supervise Your Child's Play. Stay close and pay attention while your child is playing with others. This will help you resolve sharing conflicts that she's too young to handle without you.

Take Toys to Calm Time. When not sharing a toy is causing conflict, solve the problem by saying, "The toy needs a break. Let's put it away so it doesn't cause a problem." The lesson? Not sharing makes a toy off-limits.

Use Grandma's Rule. To encourage sharing, whether it's a toy or being first, use Grandma's Rule. Say, for example, "When you let your friend play with the wagon until the timer rings, then you may play with it for the same time." This kind of contract tells the children that there is a payoff in sharing.

Use Calm Time. When your child has a tantrum because he can't give up a toy or because he wasn't first to get a snack, take him to Calm Time. Say, "I'm sorry you are feeling upset because you had to share your wagon with Sarah. After Calm Time is over, give him a big hug and talk about how he could feel good about sharing his wagon with Sarah. Listen for his ideas, or if he is too young to tell you, set a timer to help the two children learn how to take turns. When the timer rings after 2 minutes, the toy changes hands to a child who has been waiting for it. Set the timer as many times as you need it-the kiddos who are sharing it may soon get tired of the toy and move on to other fun!

What not to do:

Don't Get Upset. Remember that your child will learn the rule about sharing when she's developmentally ready, not when you force her to do so. When you see your child sharing, you'll know she's ready!

Don't Label Your Child. When your child refuses to share, telling him that he's a selfish child will make him believe that's who he is. That doesn't teach sharing. If he believes that he's naturally selfish, he will ask himself, then why should I share?

The authors and Raised with Love and Limits Foundation disclaim responsibility for any harmful consequences, loss, injury or damage associated with the use and application of information or advice contained in these prescriptions and on this website. These protocols are clinical guidelines that must be used in conjunction with critical thinking and critical judgment.