If your answer to the question above was “yes”, I’m not surprised. Sharing has become so natural to us adults that it’s easy to forget how complex and abstract the concept actually is to a beginner. I’ve heard many parents and carers tell toddlers to share but I’m not sure that many little ones understand the meaning of the word.

So what‘s the best way to encourage toddlers (whose developmental stage means they’re still focusing on themselves) to share? Little ones learn social skills most effectively from loving adults and much older caring children/teens. These mature playmates have not only mastered sharing but also have the patience to support the tot through this very difficult lesson, gradually. Playing with you is obviously important, but do encourage interactions with older children and adults so that your toddler can learn from a variety of socially skilled role models.

Even with other toddlers around I try to naturally introduce toddlers to taking turns on a one-to-one basis. I think the key is to follow their lead and be flexible. In groups, others often naturally show interest and with support they join in with the sharing games too.

Sharing Games For Toddlers

Toddler Band

Musical instruments are perfect for playfully introducing sharing and taking turns. Gather up some robust musical instruments and play together – this naturally encourages sharing. Spontaneous piano duets is another popular sharing game.

Your Turn, My Turn Game

An excellent turn taking activity is playing on a piano/keyboard or drum with a toddler. While the toddler plays the instrument, I start the game by saying “you’re taking a turn with the drum/piano”. They often stop and look at me and I ask if I can play too (with a smile). If they respond negatively I leave them be. However I quickly take blank looks as a yes. I play it for a second or two then say “thanks for the turn, now it’s your turn ”. Toddlers quite often enjoy this interaction as I say your turn, my turn as we continue the game til they get bored of it.

This sharing game is very handy as it can transfer to many tasks such as brushing teeth/hair, getting dressed, cooking or gardening with toddlers!

Ball Games

These classic sharing games fascinate many toddlers, don’t they!? I often start by encouraging a toddler to sit opposite me a few feet away with our legs spread rolling a ball back and forth. I try to reinforce the sharing and taking turn vocabulary again to help their understanding of the words. Kicking and throwing a ball is something toddlers greatly improve on through practise. I generally wait until children are around three to teach them how to catch a ball as it is usually too tricky for two-year-olds.

Timed Turns

At times when two or more children want to use the same object at the same time, using a timer to set time limits on turns really helps. An alarm clock/watch or egg/oven timers usually work well. I’ve only used this with two-year-olds and above.

I hope you and your toddler have fun with these simple yet useful games. As you play with your toddler you’ll find that natural opportunities for teaching social skills simply arise.


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