Adults ask a lot from toddlers. Just when toddlers start to get attached to objects, just when they start to have favorites, just when they start to learn the concept of “mine,” well-meaning adults start to ask them to share. Most of the time, when toddlers learn new things, those new things actually help them to master the next tasks they need to master. With the concepts of ownership and sharing, though, it might feel like the better they learn one, the harder it will be to figure out the other.
It’s true that, before Baby was all that attached to objects, he may have been more willing to hand a toy over, but that had more to do with distraction than it did with a desire to be generous. He may not be very good at sharing, but he is starting to understand the concepts that might actually lead to some genuine sharing – it just might take a little while.
In the meantime, you can help Baby by heading off some sticky situations before they start. Getting attached to objects, and learning about empathy and generosity, are both processes that can get tangled up in Baby’s brand new, big feelings as they grow this year. Not only is Baby learning to share, but he’s also learning to manage the emotions that can go with having to be patient, and to think of others. One way you can help is by practicing taking turns with him at home before asking it of him out in public. You can also help him avoid situations he might not be ready to deal with gracefully yet by putting his very favorite things away before a friend comes over to play, or by leaving favorite things at home before going to playgroup or the park.
Baby’s brain, and his social skills, are growing every day, but he is still pretty little, and can still use your help avoiding social situations he might not be up for yet. Not putting him in a position to have to share something he isn’t going to be willing to share can fall into the same category as putting him down for a nap before he’s tired enough. He just might not be old enough to know when to put themselves down to bed without your help, and he might not be able to navigate playground sharing without a helping hand, either, especially if the toy in question could be his comfort object.
Not all babies or toddlers attach to comfort objects, but for the ones that do, a comfort object is more than just a favorite thing, but a comfort they can depend on if a parent isn’t around. They can be great tools for working towards raising self-confident, independent, unafraid kids, but encouraging children to share comfort objects can get in the way of this goal.
- Copies you: If your toddler imitates you as you do regular household activities, it’s a common sign of a few different things. First, he still wants to be just like you when he grows up – and even sooner than that, if possible. He learns from you every day, but more than that, imitating your actions can be the beginning of an early version of imaginary play.
- Uses two-word sentences: He has probably been saying a word or two for a while now, but many children around this age start to be able to put those words together to form slightly more complex thoughts and messages. “More, please!” might not be a very long speech, but it still says a lot about how far Baby has come.
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