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Teaching Kids How to Share Toys With Other Children Trys Mother's Patience

Peabody Patch Moms Council offers advice to make it easier for three-year-old boy to learn how to share with others.

Teaching kids how to share at an early age can be a trying experience and Anne, a Peabody mother of a three-year-old toddler, has run out of options and patience. Here is her question:

"Dear Mom's Council:
I am a mother of a three-year-old boy, Jackson, and I am trying to teach him how to share is toys with other children. So far, it has not been going that well. We usually go to a weekly play group with other moms and their kids and Jackson refuses to share any toy he is playing with and last week he threw a tantrum that was so bad we had to leave. I felt so embarrassed and bad that my son doesn't understand that it is okay to share. I would appreciate any advice you can give me. Thanks."

Here's what two members of the Peabody Patch Moms Council had to offer for advice:

Jay Lewis, a widowed father who is raising his six-year-old son, Josh, and his nine-year-old daughter, Amanda, works at the Lahey Clinic.

Hello Anne,

I think sharing is a life lesson that is often difficult for children to grasp, but I have several thoughts for your consideration.  Firstly, for a 3 year old, their toys are their whole world and I don’t think they’re fully comprehend that they will get them back in the same state as they gave them up, so anxiety can often be high. One suggestion may be to have a discussion with Jackson before his next play date where he can pick 1 toy to keep and 1 toy to share. If you can coordinate this concept with the parent of the other child, perhaps the reciprocity may ease his stress. You may also consider having Jackson bring something to the play date that necessitates sharing like walkie-talkies, board game or an art project. Lastly, as with everything in a 3 year old’s world, positive post-play date reinforcement probably is essential to promoting Jackson’s self esteem.  I hope these suggestions help. 

Kerri Lynch is a mother of two children ages 13 and 8.  She currently works as a special education teacher in an urban city servicing children with the diagnosis of Autism.

Hi Anne,
Sharing toys is a very hard task for most three year olds. There are several methods that I have done to teach children how to share but the most important piece of teaching this is the way we reinforce the behavior.  If your child is having a difficult time at play dates you might want to start at your house teaching the exchange of sharing a very preferred toy with yourself or a sibling.  When your child shares appropriately you want to applaud Jackson which could be access to the toy for some time to also tell him great job sharing and clap and have a small party to show him that is what is expected.  Over time you can change the toys to allow him the ability to practice and give up other toys also. When Jackson is having a tantrum you do not want to draw attention to him due to him gaining attention in a negative manner. Stay very neutral and when he quiets down then you can give him choices and have him appropriately request the item.
Hope that helps.

Bridget Lynch is a mother of four girls including six year old twins, a five year old and a three year old. She is a stay at home mom who is very involved in her children's pre-school and elementary school activities.

Hi Anne,
I want to tell you, first, that you are not alone.  Every mom and dad go through this with their kids at some point.  We all get it!  Also, good for you for leaving the playdate when he wouldn't cooperate!  So often I see parents do nothing when their kids have bad behavior and then they are rewarded with the fun of a playdate or outing anyway.

I know this will sounds silly, but talk to your son.  Maybe even role-play a little.  Maybe if you make yourself something good to eat, but then (pretend to) not share it, you can say things like "this is how the other children felt when you wouldn't share your toys."

If you need a sterner approach, sometimes I tell my kids that if they don't share, then no one will play with the toys.  Usually after taking the object away, they will come around and agree to share and play together.

I hope this helps you.

Moms Talk is the place where parents can discuss any issue they are facing as they raise their kids with like-minded moms and dads. 

Peabody.Patch.com invites you and your circle of friends to help build a community of support for mothers and their families right here in Peabody. Each week in Moms Talk, our Moms Council of experts and smart moms take your questions, give advice and share solutions. If you would like to ask the Moms Council a question, please use our comment box on our home page or e-mail: robert.cook@patch.com.

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