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How should I react when my 19-month-old grabs toys and won't share with other kids?

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How should I react when my 19-month-old grabs toys and won't share with other kids?


Many toddlers find it difficult to share, especially when it comes to precious possessions like toys. Her behavior is perfectly normal for a child her age. It sounds as if you're doing the right thing by praising her when she does share. But here's something else you can do at home with your daughter now: play a sharing game.

Start with something simple. Hand your daughter one of her toys and say something like "I'm sharing this with you. Will you share it with me?" Pass it back and forth until she becomes comfortable with the concept. If you give her lots of praise and attention for sharing, she'll quickly get the hang of it.

When my son was slightly older we used to play a game we called "Cars." He had a collection of small metal "matchbox" cars, which he adored. We'd sit on the floor across from each other and divide the cars into two groups, his and mine.

Once we saw what we each had, I'd make him an offer: "I'll give you the red truck and the yellow Ferrari for the green van." If he agreed, I'd send the cars I'd traded zooming over to him and he did the same to me. Then he'd make an offer. Sometimes we'd play this for an hour or more.

He learned two important things from this game. The first was negotiation. If I had a car that he wanted, he had to figure out what he had that I might like in trade for it. This type of empathy is very useful in preschool when playing with other children.

He also became more comfortable sharing. He learned that he could let me have some of his toys without worrying that I'd never give them back.  

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