As toddlers develop their own identities, they also become increasingly aware of their “property rights”. If your child belongs to this age group, you may already be familiar with constant battles at home regarding territories and ownership. If you try to examine the root of their battles, it may stem from toys not being shared, and other things which a young child may claim ownership to. These battles may be pointless, but from a young child’s perspective, it can mean the world.

Getting young kids to share can be very difficult. They may wish to play with other kids, but when they are in the same play area, they may compete and end up fighting over a toy. This is a common scenario when young kids are playing, and although it can be frustrating for parents, it remains to be part of the normal growth and development of a child.

Here are some ways on how you can teach your child to share:

1. Never grow tired of teaching your child the value of sharing. Teaching kids to share can be a long process, and you may need to reinforce the value every now and then. Be patient, and continuously encourage your child to share.

2. Clarify any misconceptions when necessary. A child may refuse to share because he may think that if his toy is in the possession of someone else, he may no longer own it. Help your child understand the difference between ownership and possession. Assure him that when another child plays with his toy, it would not necessarily mean that he can already take the toy home. However, your child should also understand that he cannot freely grab his toy from someone else.

3. Condition your child before play dates, or before having friends over. Prepare your child in advance that other kids will be playing with his toys, but they will not be able to keep it as their own. This can make your child feel more secured about his treasured possessions, and it may also lessen the resistance when he is asked to share.

4. Try to look for solutions and avoid putting the blame on someone else. Children can fight over a specific toy, and they may find it hard to come up with effective solutions to solve the conflict. Do not put the blame on a child, but instead present them with solutions on how to resolve the conflict. However, you need to have your kids resolve the problem first before you step in. This is to prevent children from depending on you to come up with a win-win situation every time a conflict arises.

5. Try to distract your child when he becomes too heated up due to a conflict over a particular object. Choose instances when you can point out the value of sharing, so that the learning experience can be more effective. If your child is too angry, he may not at all appreciate the value of sharing.

6. Strengthen relationships. Your child may refuse to share due to sibling rivalry, or other issues concerning relationships. Try to make time for family activities that foster family bonding and sharing. If you can strengthen your child’s relationship with his siblings or other kids for that matter, he may be more willing to share his belongings.

It can be difficult to teach a young child the value of sharing when it is his natural behavior to be selfish or self-centered. However, parents should respect a child’s individuality but still inculcate the value of sharing. And eventually, a child will learn this very important virtue, which is definitely essential through all his developmental stages.