From the moment we become pregnant, we are sharing just about everything with our children: our bodies, our food, our space, and our emotions. You’d think that after all of this sharing, our children would be experts! But we know that is often not the case. If your toddler hasn’t mastered an ability to share, fear not – they have simply entered a common and healthy stage where they are developing a sense of self, separate from others around them. This lack of identity, paired with the inability to experience empathy (which doesn’t develop until 4-5 years of age), often leads to plenty of “me” and “mine” language being used at home, school, and on the playground. We never truly lose our interest in what is ours, but we learn to express it less forcefully as we get mature. Here are a few tips to help your little one manage these strong emotions, while they work towards establishing their independence.
1. Start young: your child’s eyes are on you from day one, so practice modeling turn-taking from an early age. This can be as simple as talking about sharing the sugar jar with your partner while you make your morning coffee. It might feel silly to narrate your life, but it’s effective. Monkey see, monkey do!
2. Use drama: child psychologists and researchers agree that children learn social skills best through experience and play. Re-enact situations about taking turns and sharing using puppets, dolls, and even yourselves! Create a game with your child where you must share to solve a problem or complete an activity.
3. Praise: use positive praise for preferred behavior, such as: “I love how you shared your favorite car with your baby sister. Look at how happy it made her!” Children want to please, and respond well to positive re-enforcement. Remember to use simple, concrete language, as young children do not yet have a sophisticated vocabulary.
4. Don’t give up: it’s hard to feel like you are constantly breaking up playground battles, but try to not get discouraged; find solace knowing that all parents will experience this stage at some point. Children need to experience situations repeatedly in order for real-life lessons to sink in. The more chances children have to fail and succeed, the more resilient they will become.
Here are some special ways to show your love on Valentine’s Day :
Create a simple song that is special for your child. Take a familiar melody, insert your child’s name and a sweet message- Example- to the tune of Frere Jacque:
Little (your child’s name), little (your child’s name), I love you, yes I do.Mommy always loves you, Mommy always loves you, because you’re YOU, because you’re YOU
Write a special note and slip it into their lunch box to let them know you’re thinking about them even when you’re not together. Draw a quick picture as a bonus!
Draw a heart and color it in together to show your hearts are always connected.
Your undivided attention is the best and most loving gift of all, so make it a point to clear your schedule and commit to some one-on-one play time with heart!