Why We Shouldn’t Teach Our Toddlers to Share

Family & kids
3 years ago

“Sharing is caring” — that’s what we’re taught and that`s what we want our children to understand. Sometimes, though, it’s hard to get your kid to share their toy with other kids and not throw a tantrum. The thing is, it’s important to take the age of your child into account and put off teaching them to share until they’re older.

We at Bright Side had no idea that the age of the child makes a difference when it comes to teaching your kid to share with others. But, apparently, you might fail if you do it too early!

Toddlers don’t understand what sharing means.

Toddlers are too young to understand the concept of sharing. So there’s no point in trying to explain to them that they should share their toy with another child. They simply won’t get it and your words won’t teach them anything.

That’s why it’s important to wait until your child gets a bit older, when they’ve developed enough mentally and emotionally to be able to understand how sharing and caring are connected and why it’s good to share with others.

Owning things helps them build a sense of self.

One of the reasons toddlers don’t understand the concept of sharing is because they don’t yet have a concept of self as a separate and individual person. And having toys that are just theirs and no one else’s can give them that understanding. So when they grab something and decide it’s theirs, they aren’t being selfish. They’re “testing the hypothesis that they’re individuals.”

Toddlers also don’t understand at their age that things can belong to other people and not just them.

They think sharing means giving their toy away forever.

Another thing that complicates the matter is the concept of time — toddlers don’t yet understand that either. So while a parent might be thinking that it’s not a big deal to let another kid play with their child’s toy for a while, their child sees it as giving the toy up for good. Because they just can’t imagine that someone else can have it for any period of time, and then give it back. The same inability to understand happens when you tell them to play “in turns.”

They can’t control their impulses.

It’s hard for toddlers to control their impulses. So, if they want something and they want it to be theirs only — there are no words that can persuade them otherwise.

This is how you can suggest to your kid that sharing is the right thing to do.

Occasionally, your toddler might share something with you. However, this is not a conscious act of sharing, they are just exploring and experimenting. If that happens, you can show to your kid that it was nice of them to share, and also genuinely share back. So if these situations happen naturally, you can use them as a teaching opportunity.

And if someone takes your kid’s toy, it’s important to make your child feel understood. To your child, you can describe their emotions and emphasize that you understand that they didn’t like it when someone took their toy. You can also tell them to hold on tight to what is theirs, because it’s their right to do so. As for the kid who took the toy away, you could suggest that they ask if they can use the toy next time, instead of just grabbing it.

However, don’t push it. If you keep insisting that your kid share their toy with somebody else, they might start to associate this word with something negative and this period of “selfishness” and wanting to have things just for themselves might last longer.

With time, your kid will understand the world better and might even learn to like sharing because they’ll see that it makes other people happy.

When did you start teaching your kids to share with others? Are there any tricks that helped you when teaching this lesson?


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the things you say kind of make sense but only from one side. From another side, teaching how to share also teaches compassion and helping others. I have never had a feeling that my things would be "never given back", that's weird.


I always chose myself if I wanted to share with someone. If the kid wasn't nice or I was scared that my belongings would get broken I'd just refuse giving anything. But for my friends or family I was always nice and generous and shared with anything. I don't see any problem with that and I have never mentally suffered from doing this, as a child


stop creating these garbage... Stop doing these nonsense.. leave the children alone.. leave the parents alone.. You go and learn about kindness and sharing


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