As parents, we hold the goal for our children to be happy and get along well with others. Learning to share is one of the first challenges facing young children learning to play with others. Here are a few ideas to consider as you work on finding your way of introducing this social skill.

Whenever possible, include your child in choices of what to share. Most adults have possessions they would prefer not to pass around. Expecting your child to welcome and give others free access to all their “treasures” may be met with understandable resistance. Before play dates, choose, with your child, which toys to put away and which to leave out to share. This approach might also soothe disputes between siblings.

Very young children are more likely to play independently side by side. They also commonly suffer from that “green grass complex” and find what others are playing, most desirable. Since children are constantly learning, even what at play, they want and need to be able to complete an activity. Pushing them to allow others into their immediate space, to “share” before they are finished with their process can and does cause frustration. They may even become anxious around other children and more possessive of toys. Taking turns comes before sharing. When you are hosting a playtime for more than one child, make available several activity choices and support and insist on taking turns. The time and effort involved will be worth the eventual cooperation. When meltdowns occur and patience flees, take a nice ice-cream break.