*info from “Positive Discipline” book - read the book for more ideas!
Children under the age of 2 are egocentric – center of their own world and it's the “me” and “mine” stages. This is not selfishness – it’s natural human development. Everything in the world belongs to them and no amount of logic changes this perspective at the moment. 15 month olds are working on learning how to share but the process is far from complete. Children this age need guidance and teaching (rather than “discipline”). Provide solutions: finding another toy they can offer a friend, finding something else to do while they wait their turn, or showing ways they can both play with the toy together at the same time.
By age 2-2 ½ they can begin to do it on their own but don’t expect consistency! Possessiveness and ownership are normal steps before the ability to share gradually begins around the ages of 3 or 4. Meanwhile:
- - Begin teaching the process of sharing without expecting your child to understand. Kindly and firmly remove an item that belongs to someone else or that she can’t have, without lecturing or shaming.
- - Model sharing. Give your child bites of a special treat. Offer to let him hold something that is yours. Play trading games with him. “What do you want to share with me while I share this with you?” Pretending with stuffed animals is another way sharing can be modeled and practiced.
- - Also support your child’s need to possess. At times, help older children find another toy to play with. Or say “I know that’s your favorite toy. Which of your toys would you be willing to share for a while?” Acknowledge children’s feelings. Empathy eases the pain and paves the way to later acceptance of sharing by saying “It’s hard to share. You really wanted that. I have faith that you will share when you are ready.”
- - Sharing is a skill that must be taught and practiced (over and over again), so explore with children the possibilities of words to use when learning to share.