21 Month Old NOT Sharing

Updated on August 31, 2009
K.G. asks from Johnson, VT
6 answers

Hey ladies!
Just a simple question, all of a sudden it appears that my daughter of 21 months is having a really hard time sharing toys/books etc. It has become quite hard to have playdates with other kids as they end up having 'screaming fits' for the item. Im not sure how to effectively teach a toddler how to share. Any insight is very appreciated~thanks

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answers from Bangor on

Hi K. G, one thing to realize is that at that age, "not sharing" is part of their development. HOwever, that said, it sounds like you believe in teaching it (as I did) regardless. I have a just-turned 3 year old and a 16 month old and have been working on the sharing idea with my 3 yr old for at least a year. and of course, now that I have two, I am working on it with my daughter even sooner since she has been taught by her brother ideas like "MINE!" etc. But one thing that has worked for us - especially in play date situations is to recognize that your daughter wants something and then recognize that the other child wants to play with it also, and then ask/tell them that "looks like we might need to count to ten and take turns sharing this toy" and then start a counting-taking-turns time unti they lose interest in the toy. It helps at this point to have play dates with other children with whom parents you are sort-of on the same page so that you don't feel awkward or uncomfortable stepping in and mitigating circumstances with their child. It helped for me that I had a friend whose children are the same age as mine so when our older boys both wanted to play with the same toy we BOTH took this tone with them and so they had consistency across which parent was speaking. hope this helps!!

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answers from Boston on

At that age they really are too young to get sharing. I discussed turn taking rather than sharing as it seems easier to get and did not allow toy snatching. I also would not snatch a toy back from DD to return to the other child as I thought it was important to model correct behavior for her. Why is it ok for mom to snatch if I can't? That's confusing.

Generally I would remind DD of the rules in advance and keep reminding. When she would take a toy from another child (almost ALL do it) I would remind of the rule, tell her she could have a turn when the other child was finished and work with her until she could give the toy back. Sometimes this took more time than others. I felt strongly about not forcibly removing it from her, but I wouldn't let her keep on playing with it either, we just kept discussing it until she was ready to give it back or to give it to me to give back. When other kids took toys from her, I let her know that the child forgot the rule and that we'd play with something else.

I've never put arbitrary time limits until they had to give it up (you can play for 2 mins then it's his turn). At that age and even still (DD is almost 3) the fact is that the attention span is quite short so they generally put it down pretty quickly and the next person gets their turn.

Also if it was a play date in my house I always (and until recently) asked DD in advance about toys that she wouldn't want to share and removed them. Or I just removed the ones I knew would be an issue. She's almost 3 now and gets turn taking and sharing (though we always do still discuss the rules in advance). It is usually not an issue now. I think it just takes a lot of patience and helping them do it at that age and for a while yet.



answers from Boston on

It is a tough concept to grasp. I've heard that using the "taking turns" is easier for children to understand. If I see who had the toy first I'll tell the children that that person has 2 more minutes and then it's the other child's turn. If I didn't see who had it first I'll give it to the other child and say,"we need to take turns and try to distract my child with something else. If she has a fit I'd probably take her away from the group until she calms down. Just try to be consistent with it. This too shall pass!

Good Luck :)



answers from Boston on

Hi K.,
As everyone so far has suggested, "taking turns" is a good way to show little children how to share. I've found that at that young an age, you also have to physically help children take turns. That is, when they do not want to let the other kids have their turn, gently remove the item from their hands while explaining that it is the other child's turn now and what that means: they have to give the toy to the other child.

While doing this, take another item and place it in their hands. They understand (or you hope they do!) that they give something up but they also get something. Explain all this while it is happening so they connect the words with the actions. You will probably have to do it many times, but that's OK. After a while you won't have to physically help, just reminding with the words will be enough.

Hope this helps. Good luck!



answers from Hartford on

This is very common. Just keep modeling the sharing. If you have a child over your house make sure you put her favorite toys away as those are harder to share. My son is just a little older than your daughter. He has two older siblings (10 and 7). And he will drop what he's doing to run across the room and push them off of or away from whatever he has deemed as his. Distraction with another toy is helpful. Do not stop the playdates though. They are very important to helping teach sharing and playing. Most parents understand and probably are dealing with the same issues.



answers from Portland on

Most all little children are not naturally inclined to share and need to be instructed.
One way I handled it (seven children) was to have them pick out SOME toys they did not have to share and put them in a separate box.
Then to pick out toys they would be willing to share.
Taking turns is important..it is important because you do not want to diminish your child by forcing them to turn over a toy they really want to play with and just picked up..
Mostly I found it is a matter of communication. I did not either take my child to other children, or bring other children into the home without a chat.
The chat consisted of basics of sharing...is polite, is nice..child wants other child to share with them...ect ect.
No grabbing, no hitting, no screaming...but to ask nicely for a turn.
It takes a bit of patience to teach, thats for sure but with consistancy it will happen.
You do not have a monster, you have a normal little girl who needs to learn to share.
Tincture of time and this too, shall pass.
Best wishes and God bless
Grandmother Lowell

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