Toddlers are sometimes very stingy with their toys or don’t choose to play well with others. But, is there a way to get toddlers to share their toys and play nicely?
Well, yes and no.
Some toddlers enjoy interacting with others in their play and some don’t.
Developmentally, actively playing together formally may not come until the ages of three to five. Each child is different. However, to diffuse problems with sharing toys, you will have to interfere quite frequently.
Time out does not really work for those under four all the time because their attention spans may be short and they are likely to forget why they were there and they may not have fully understood in the first place.
Here is one method I have found to be very effective.
When one toddler is picking on the other, remove the offender from the situation and distract each one. Bend down to the offending child’s level. Firmly say “No, (insert kid’s name here). That’s not very nice. Now you’ll have to play over here.”
Take him or her to another area of the room or yard.
Then, let the others continue as they were and give the offender a “busy” toy.
After a few minutes, go back to the offending child and get on his or her level again. Firmly, but calmly ask “Are you ready to share/play nice with everyone now”?
They usually say yes. If they say no, say “It looks like you need a few more minutes over here” and walk away. Repeat step 2 until the child is ready to cooperate.
When using this method, it is key that it be repeated each and every time the child repeats the negative action. This may mean it needs to be repeated over and over again, but, eventually the children will learn to get along with another. Children learn by consistency of repetitive actions.
The action of removing a child from a negative situation that he or she created teaches that child over time that when he behaves negatively, there are consequences.
However, if the child is allowed to stay where the negative activity occurred, it may teach the child that all that will happen is someone might say no. Therefore, the child will be more likely to repeat the negative action for the excitement in getting a negative response from another child.
For preschoolers and toddlers, another child crying or screaming is entertainment. They don’t always know that it means they have hurt someone and if they do, they don’t fully comprehend why it isn’t okay. Yes, they can feel pain as well, but they don’t yet know how to associate their pain with another’s pain.
Also, some toddlers simply do this because the other child has something they want. They don’t all quite understand why it isn’t okay to snatch anything you want. It is up to the caregiver to teach this to the child with a simple method, such as the one mentioned above.
If this simple lesson is taught early in a child’s life, it can possibly avoid the same negative behaviors occurring in older children. Many older children who fight or pick on others simply were never reprimanded properly or soon enough. Many times, only words are used and are just not enough. A toddler will soon catch on that nothing will be done after the words. In fact, he or she may repeat the action just to get the negative response out of the caregiver. This oftentimes carries into childhood, and can even carry into adulthood.
Sometimes actions are taken long after the incident is over with and are simply not effective enough. A toddler may not understand being punished more than a couple minutes after the incident. It may have left their mind by then. It is prompt action and consistency that will get the best response when it comes to getting any lesson to stick with a child.
To read more from this author, please click on her picture above.