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Teaching Toddlers About Sharing and Caring

by Tania Cowling | April 11th, 2016 | Infants/Toddlers, Social
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toddlers togetherToddlers aren’t born with the knowledge of sharing and caring about others – it’s acquired as they grow. To egocentric toddlers the world revolves around them – and yes, they are in the MINE stage. I think the awareness of sharing and caring begins with the sense of self and the ability to identify and describe feelings. When your little one is aware of how he feels, he may begin to realize that others have the same feelings. For example, if your child has a toy snatched from him by another child, he may cry and feel sad. Well, maybe the next time he sees another child crying about a toy taken away, your child may start to understand how this feels.

Example is always the most effective and positive teaching strategy. Toddlers usually imitate what they see more often than what they hear. In other words, actions are key. Chaos with loud voices, anger, and confusion are really contagious, but so are happiness, generosity, and serenity. Which would you rather see in your child? If you as the parent can remain calm through chaos, your children may just reflect on this peaceful attitude and adopt it.

Make sure to demonstrate alternative ways to coping with angry feelings. Say, your child is building with blocks peacefully and some other child comes and knocks down his statue. Before the fighting begins, come into the play area and intervene by starting a counting game from one to ten or recite the alphabet as a diversion from this situation. Be sure to count out loud, and make this a habit when behavioral issues happen between siblings and friends.

Appeal to your toddler’s imagination through stories, songs, role-playing and games to show feelings and caring. Play a game where you ask your kiddo to show you with her face what it looks like to be really happy, or angry, or really surprised. Affirm that these feelings are normal. Show your child how taking turns with a playmate can make your child and his friend happy when everyone has a fair chance at games, toys, and even your attention. Role-play using the magic words “please” and “thank you” to turn a simple game into a lesson of manners.

Toddlers love to sing so the simple song, “If You’re Happy and You Know It” is an excellent way to act out feelings. Change the words to show different feelings (sad, angry, scared, surprised, silly, tired, sleepy, and so on). Books are also another medium to teach toddlers about sharing and caring. A couple of my favorites are: The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister and Calm-Down Time by Elizabeth Verdick. As parents, helping our young children develop values is so important. Growing up is tough enough so engaging these goals will aid them in shaping a good life for themselves and with others.

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