Will sharing ever really happen?

by Helen
(Long Beach, CA)

My son is 2 1/2 years old. He is never really around other children (other than at the park and public settings since he doesn't go to day care), and we now live very close to our friends and their 2 year old daughter. The 2 year old little girl has been in day care since she was 6 months old, and therefore is around other kids all day. She has learned more sharing than our son. When they are together it is non-stop fighting and crying and whining over toys. It often turns to hitting and pushing.

To me, this seems normal (not acceptable, but normal)...my son is not used to this and therefore he is going to have to learn. I am constantly grabbing the toy out of his hand, giving it back to the little girl and telling him "We SHARE. First you, then her. Now your turn. Now her's." But, the little girl often just walks right over and shoves my son. This has now taught him to do the same, and it just is so stressful when we are all together.

This makes it difficult to be around our friend's, the parents of the little girl. They get frustrated with our son (as though we DON'T!!!), and are always grabbing things from our son and handing them back to their daughter. I get embarrassed over my son's behavior and am trying really hard to teach him the sharing concept. But we end up being the laughing stock of get togethers. My husband doesn't even want to be in settings like this right now because he says he feels like our son looks like a brat.

I feel that we should be in MORE settings like this even though it is not enjoyable! How else is our son going to learn how to act around other children? At some point I am hoping "it clicks" and he learns how to share.

Dr Maud Answers:

This is just normal development.

Your son has normal toddler behavior. He is self-absorbed and so he won't think of others. He has no impulse control so grabbing is normal.

This play is often called parallel play because toddlers play alongside each other rather than together. It is the phase that occurs as toddlers check their peers out and eventually, they will feel happy to play with another child more interactively.

Try some of the following tips to see what works for you and your son:
-when his friend comes over for a toy, remind him that Sally (or whoever) wants to play with him and vice versa. Put a positive spin on it
-take 2 of the same toys out and tell him to give one to Sally to play with while he plays with one
-have plenty of toys to give him, so he will have his own and not need to take his friends. And they will be his toys so you friends won't be able to take them off him just because their daughter wants them

By about 3 years of age, children are starting to be more confident and will join in with others for play.

Sharing will happen.

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