It’s not really.  Taking turns and sharing are two different things but in the world of toddlers and parenthood, we need to put the focus on taking turns and take the pressure off of sharing.

Let’s look at this from an adult point of view:

Taking turns is: I’m using the computer right now and when I’m done writing emails, you can use it to watch youtube videos.

Sharing is: Let’s split this chocolate brownie in half so we can each have some.

In both of these cases, both adults are satisfied with the results and everyone is happy!

Now let’s look at this from a toddler point of view:

Taking turns is:  There is one toy that both children want.  One child gets a turn and when that child is finished, the other child gets a turn.

Sharing is: play-dough that both children can use at the same time so one child gives a piece to the other child so that they can each have some.

In both of these cases, both children are satisfied and their needs are being met and everyone is happy!

Now let’s take a look at what sharing isn’t: Telling a child that they must give something up in the name of “sharing”.  This only creates frustration.  If your husband or wife came up to you while you were writing emails and said, “You need to share the computer” and then took if from you, you would be frustrated.  Children feel the same way.  

Don’t make them give up their toy in the name of sharing!

Children have difficulty waiting their turn for the toy but they can do it!  This is a great time to introduce the sign for waiting which is wiggling your fingers.  

So the interaction might look like this:

Two young children:  (screaming and grabbing toys!)

Adult: It looks like it is Maria’s turn.  Max, would you like a turn after Maria?

Max: No! It’s my turn!

Adult: So you don’t want a turn after Maria?

Max: Wait, yes!  I do want a turn.

Adult: Maria, can you give Max a turn when you are finished?

Maria: No, It’s my turn!

Adult: Yes, you are using it now; can Max use it when you are done?

Maria: Um, ok.

Adult: Max what would you like to do while you are waiting? Do you want to read a book with me?

This is written for two toddlers who have vocabulary, but works just as well for children who are non-verbal as children can understand this at much younger ages.  

The idea is to teach them the language so that eventually they can manage themselves.  This is particularly important for siblings.   This takes a lot of work in the beginning but eventually your children will be able to play together because they will be respectful to each other and not take each others toys in the name of “sharing.”

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