One of the big challenges of the toddler years, is to learn to share toys. To do this your little one has to develop the awareness that someone else has feelings and also to delay gratification and regulate their own behaviors. One can see this is a complicated mental and social milestone that takes time to master. At 2 years old sharing is still very hard but it begins to emerge at 3 and by 4 years old, it is definitely a realistic expectation. Initially, your toddler will show his friend an object that he want his friend to observe/ handle and look at, but his intention is not really to share. It takes time to learn that when we share toys, we do get them back. This is complicated by the fact that there are some things (such as a snack) that we don't get back. Occupational Therapist Cornelia Liebentritt, offers 5 ideas you can use to be prepared-ish to help your little one learn to share: 1. Toddlers copy what we do, so use imitation and show your little one how you share 2. Use the word "share" to show what you are doing 3. Start playing turn taking games from a young age e.g. "My turn, your turn" 4. When you spend time playing with your little one, never let him grab a toy from you (this is good practice for playdates), instead encourage him to swop what he has for what you have 5. Help your toddler to wait by saying "I'm not done yet". Play on for a while and give the toy to him when you are done with it, saying "I'm done now, it's your turn". Use the same language with him when friends are around and remind him that it is a strategy to use if someone wants to take a toy he is still busy with Learning to share is a life lesson and one that takes practice in the toddler years
Megan Faure (OTR) www.megfaure.com Meg is an Occupational Therapist with a special interest in babies and toddlers - specifically irritable infants; sleep problems, emotional engagement difficulties and fussy feeding. Meg is the co-author of Baby Sense and the Sense-series books. Her clinical practise is in Cape Town and she consults and speaks internationally too.