toddlers sharing toys

How to Teach an Only Child to Share – 10 Sure-Fire Ways

There are a bunch of things that are to be taught to the children. The toddler age is the most crucial one. Children at this age are still very new to the world.

Toddlers are very possessive about their stuff and when it comes to sharing, they may become a volcano.

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Ever encountered the scene? When a cousin of your child arrives, who is also a toddler, unluckily, wants the favorite toy of your child. Your child doesn’t want to share and the battle begins. This might be a short sentence but it contains all of the details, you can feel it. Can’t you?

How to teach an only child to share? Teaching an only child to share can be challenging but you can do it by setting a good example from early on, talking to the baby, using pretend play, showing videos based on sharing, and most importantly by giving advance notice that he is expected to share when the other kids will arrive.

So teaching toddlers sharing is one of the biggest parenting challenges.

In this article:

Why it is harder to teach “sharing” to a child when he/she is the only child?

Teaching a toddler sharing with siblings is a whole different topic, that’s a continuous battle and it is often covered in the topic of siblings rivalry.

In that case, training the children to share with siblings might be easier (as compared to training the toddler who is the only child) because you have tons of opportunities daily. And you can get similar toys and other stuff for both of the children.

Teaching a toddler to share when she is the only child is a whole different story. Why?

Because of the fact, that she completely owns all of her stuff, the only child is much more pampered and very few opportunities are there to teach the child.

Why kids don’t share?

Kids don’t like sharing because of the simple fact that ‘sharing is the other name for sacrifice.’ And at this age don’t understand that other people might have conflicting wants and needs.

Why sharing is important?

There is a bunch of benefits of teaching children to share the stuff they love.

Learning about sharing at an early age makes them able to become more socially responsible in the future, and without any force.

They should not take sharing as “sacrificing” so they don’t feel bad or oppressed when a need to share approaches them.

Moreover, sharing will make the toddlers able to make more friends and even keep them.

They will become more positive and as you know, real happiness doesn’t come from what you have, it comes from what you give.

So, giving something will fill your baby will internal positivity. It’s natural. For kids too!

At what age you can expect the child to share the stuff?

Here is the most important thing to consider. Setting realistic expectations is the most important thing to get the best result.

You can’t expect a 2-year-old to share the stuff, because, at this age, the child is not completely able to understand the importance of sharing, she doesn’t even understand the feelings of others. All she knows is that she owns the thing and it belongs only to her.

Never feel embarrassed when your 2-year-old shouts and doesn’t share. It’s completely fine and normal.

So when should you expect a child to share things?

At around 2.5-3 years of age (varying from child to child), you can expect your toddler to start sharing the stuff she loves. It is the best age to teach the children about the emotions and feelings of others because she is old enough to understand a little.

But, How to teach your toddler sharing? How to train this little monster? Read along!

How to teach an only child to share the stuff?

There are so many ways to teach children “sharing”.

1- Set Example

The first and the most important thing is to become a role model by yourself. You have to show the child that it is so important to share your stuff.

Sharing with the child

You can do it simply by sharing your own stuff with your child. Children are very eager to use their parents’ stuff.

At the age of “toddler”, you will find out that your baby is demanding so many things that belong to you.

You simply have to share your stuff. Let your child eat from your plate. Let her wear your shoes.

But keep in mind that you have to mention that you are sharing your stuff.

Just letting her eat from your plate is not enough. State, “Do you want mama to share the meal with you?” Child nods. ‘okay! Come! I would love to share with you.”

This way your child will know that Mama is sharing. It will become easier for her to understand the feelings of others.

Sharing with others

Share your stuff with your partner. And again, let the child know that you just shared your stuff with the other person.

Ultimately, the kid will start following you.

2- Train Early

Training and expecting are two different things. Do not mix the concept.

You can’t expect a child to share things before 2.5 years of age but that doesn’t mean that you can’t train them.

From the very beginning, the child should see you sharing your stuff with others.

It can be anyone, your partner, or any family member, and even if you have a routine of giving away the things, you don’t require anymore, to any poor person will be a great deal.

It will fill your heart with positivity too and you will bring up an amazing child.

3- Set example of other children

Don’t forget to praise other children when they share. Let your child know how good that child is who shared his stuff.

But, never compare the children.

Avoid saying, “Look! He is a very good boy because he shared his toy but you never do this.”

This kind of comparison develops a sense of jealousy in kids. It will do more harm than good.

Moreover, make sure that no other person is listening to this when you speak to your child. Your child may feel embarrassed or dishearted.

You just have to let the child know that this was a good deed but in person.

4- Reward Style

Never underestimate the power of praising and rewarding, especially in parenting.

Praising doesn’t spoil the children, instead, it develops self-confidence and an urge to become a good person.

Don’t think that the child may not receive praises when he grows up, so we should not make him used to this kind of behavior.

Praising will encourage the child to share more of the stuff.

5- Have a nice talk

Some parents avoid talking to the child of this age (2-4 years) thinking that “no! she is not old enough to understand this.” But the reality is not that.

Children understand the language of their parents. Their brains are developing so fast and they are always ready to learn new things.

Talk to the child about the importance of sharing, why it is important, and how not sharing the stuff may hurt other children.

A few sessions of “talk” will make them able to understand the situation.

6- Don’t force

Forcing will not help. It may do more harm than good.

When you see a battle between two kids, ask your child to share but don’t force a lot. Let the other child’s parent deal with the demand of their kid.

If you will force a lot in front of other children, your baby might feel alone at that time.

Just let them be and try to distract the children.

7- Don’t get angry or yell at the child

This is the worst thing a parent can do to the child, in any situation.

It’s not only about yelling or getting angry in front of others but you should not even do this alone.

Yelling may give instant results but it makes the child more stubborn and selfish.

Ultimately, you will see that your child is not even listening to the polite instructions and wants to compete with you.

Read Also: How to become a more patient mom?

8- Use YouTube videos to train her

Screen time may come with a lot of bad effects on the eyes and brain but the reality is that you cannot completely ban it.
By completely banning screen time, you are stopping your children to get into the world and compete with others.

You just have to limit the screen time and make it more productive for the child.

Use YouTube for this purpose. Search cartoon shows that are based on the idea of sharing and if you are using youtube kids, you can simply save them offline and give the device to the child with the turned-off internet.

Let the child watch these shows, and I bet they will absorb the idea so quickly.

You can also sit with the child, watch the show and praise the cartoon character who is sharing.

9- Never miss an opportunity to teach

If your child doesn’t like sharing, it doesn’t mean that you should avoid the children’s gathering.

Instead, use every children’s gathering as an opportunity to teach your child.

The more your child will meet other kids, the more chances are there that your kid will start sharing the stuff.

10- Give advance notice

Last but not the least, let the child know that she has to share the toys with the kids who are about to visit us.

This tip always works for my daughter. Giving an advance notice makes up the child’s mind and there are very few chances of tantrums.

When you are going to visit someone or someone with children is coming to visit you, let your child know about the upcoming meet-up and about your expectations from her.

Ask yourself?

  • Am I setting realistic expectations from my child?
  • Do I feel embarrassed when my child doesn’t share her stuff?
  • Do I show aggressive behavior or force my child to share, when she is not doing so?
  • What kind of “Role model” I’m being?
  • Am I taking every “scene” as a new opportunity to teach my child?
  • Is she mentally prepared to share her stuff when someone is about to meet my child?
  • What kind of feeling she has towards “sharing”? Does she take it as a “positive” or “negative” act?


Parenting is never easy and children’s moods are never the same. But we as parents are responsible to teach our children.

But if you see your child, not following your instructions, don’t get embarrassed. Don’t feel like you are not a good parent.

Time will fly even before you know it. Just give your best, think positively, and enjoy your life with your little ones.

Best of luck!

Related Articles:

How to deal with a toddler throwing tantrums?

What is the reason behind the tantrums and how to manage them?

How to stop yelling at the child and become a more patient mom?

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