As a mom (and teacher), I strive everyday to engage, nurture, and expand the mind of my little one.
Here you will find the books, music, and activities most useful to me in my endeavors.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Sharing vs. Taking Turns

Sharing is a constant theme ... and battle ... throughout toddlerhood. Heck, who am I kidding? Throughout LIFE.

It is not an easy skill to learn. And let's face it, some toddlers (people) are better at it than others. A toddler's ability to share can also depend on the day, his mood, the location, the friend he's being asked to share with, and what is being shared.

So often the word "share" is used to mean, "give away half of your cookie" - a half of cookie that you're never getting back. We also use it to mean, "hand over that toy" ... with an implied "you'll get it back in a minute." But can't you see how a toddler could make a connection between the two? It's one thing to hand over a bite of cookie - a consumable, replaceable treat. It's quite another to hand over a beloved toy, an object that's marked with ownership and permanence.

I read or heard somewhere about how a subtle shift in terminology can make a big difference. Helping toddlers understand these two concepts can actually help them become better at sharing. And it can save you from repeating the word, "share," a hundred times during a play date.


"Sharing" is used for food and things that won't be returned.

"Oh, Natalie, that's a big cookie. I want you to share with Cee-Cee and give her some of it."

"Taking turns" refers to each toddler having time to play with the toy.

"Natalie, I know that you really like that doll, but give Cee-Cee a turn playing with it, and then you can have it back in a minute."


It's such a simple but impactful concept. It has taken me some time to form a habit of distinguishing the two and not just reverting back to, "Natalie, you need to share." But I am seeing a difference in Natalie's reaction to "taking a turn" with her favorite toys; she's more willing and less distressed. She's also started to use the words with more distinction.

Perhaps this distinction will help your toddler learn the fine art of sharing.

1 comment:

Chi-town momma said...

I think this is an excellent point! I need to share this with the other moms in my Educational playgroup so we can work together to get our little nuggets past the "sharing" struggles! Thanks D!