How Sharing Works In Our Home

My son has a new toy, an orange tractor which he is very proud of. He has very few toys (by comparison to typical western families) and I bought this on a whim when I saw how much he loved it, and his whole face lit up.

I work part-time as a childminder so every week children come to the house and play with “his” things. The evening before a little boy, (who I will call Josh for the purpose of this article) was due to come, my little boy held on tight to his tractor, quietly saying “Josh isn’t going to play with my tractor.”

“No,” I reassured him, “not if you don’t want him to.”

The next morning when my son woke he was immediately focused on his tractor. He held it tight and was clearly worried. “Josh is not going to play with my tractor?” he asked sadly.

So I made a suggestion.

“How about we put the tractor away for today, then you don’t have to worry about it and you know it’s safe?”

He immediately smiled and agreed, already rushing off to put it somewhere safe.

About five minutes before Josh was due to arrive, he went and got it back again. I asked if he was sure he didn’t want to put it away, and reminded him that Josh would be here any minute.

He decided to keep hold of it anyway.

Josh arrived and rushed in to say hello, and my son smiled up at him and immediately said,

“Do you want to play with my tractor Josh,” holding it up to him and watching happily as Josh took it to play.


Forcing a child to share only makes them feel powerless and less happy to do it of their own will. Conversely, as you can see from this example, taking the pressure off and putting the decision in the child’s hands can produce some surprising results. I’m not saying it always pans out this way, but in showing respect for my child’s wishes, he in turn is learning to respect others.

For more information and ideas on toddler sharing, see my book, Trust Me, I’m A Toddler!

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