There's a big reason why sharing is such a challenge for your growing baby: he's used to being the center of attention! Understanding that he's part of a bigger world that consists of other little people like him will take some time to comprehend, but there are ways to help him begin grasping the concept of sharing.
Teach by example.
I had to show my youngest son how it was done. When I offered him a taste of my banana, I pointed out that I was sharing with him, and then asked if I could have one of his cereal puffs. I learned that modeling such behaviors could go a long way.
There are some no-no’s.
I also quickly learned how hard it was for my son to part with his absolute favorite plaything. I realized that I shouldn’t mess with his toy, but teach him how to share other toys. We’d take turns rolling a ball back and forth, offering lots of encouragement when he did so without a fuss. Knowing what sentimental belongings are on and off limits are key for teaching little ones to respect other’s belongings. On that note…
Implement personal belongings.
The power of verbalizing the notion that things belong to others was huge for my youngest. Labeling "daddy's phone," "big brother's cars," and "mommy's hat," helped my baby understand that not everything was his. At the same time, I showed respect toward my son’s possessions: "Is it OK if mommy hugs your cuddly bear?" Little ones will begin to understand in a small way the importance of respecting other’s belongings and also how to take care of their own things.
Manners go a long way.
Although your little one probably can’t understand the importance of sharing their things with others, this action helps with the broader notion of compassion and relating with others. How cute is it to watch toddlers share their snack with their little friends? Imagine that blossoming into adulthood.
It will take time and there may be setbacks, but teaching how to share is a worthy cause.
Dawn Papandrea is a freelance writer specializing in parenting, women's lifestyle, and personal finance. Her work has appeared in Family Circle, Parents, WomansDay.com, and more. She lives in Staten Island, NY with her husband, two fast-growing boys, and a living room full of toys.