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Learning To Share

Teaching a child to share can be a time-consuming and frustrating task. Fortunately, Kate Kelly, Managing Editor of American Baby, has some tips that may help calm your nerves.

When teaching your kids to share, set realistic expectations. Keep in mind that children really don't understand the concept of sharing until 2 1/2 or 3 years of age. "A lot of parents expect that their two-year-old should be able to share because they're interested in other children and play dates make sense," says Kelly.

It can be frustrating when, instead of sharing, your toddler simples declares that everything belongs to them. Remember that toddlers are egocentric. Even though they understand the concept of ownership, they can't understand that someone else may want to share an toy with them. "Even stuff that isn't theirs, they think is 'mine'," says Kelly. Understand another person's point of view really don't begin until age three.

While some play dates may end in fights over what toy belongs to whom, Kelly suggests that you continue to expose your kids to other toddlers. "The only way they're really going to learn is by hands-on experience," says Kelly. "The mistake we makes as parents is that we just want to talk to the other mom and hang out and let the two-year-olds play. You kind of have to be there refereeing."

Do your best to be proactive and stop these types of fights before they break out in the first place. "Never have a play date when a child is tired or hungry," says Kelly. "Timing is everything." Try to keep the play dates short and limit the amount of time each child plays with a toy by using an egg timer. This gives kids equal amounts of play time, but it also takes the blame off of you if your child gets upset. "You're not telling them it's time to give up the toy, the timer is telling them it's time to give up the toy," says Kelly.

If things do fall apart, take the kids outside for a change of scenery or offer them a healthy snack. Whatever you do, don't lose your cool. Sharing will come eventually - it just takes a little patience.

For more information on teaching your children to share, as well as other parenting advice, click here to visit the American Baby website.
By Erin Petrun