My 3 1/2 year old is having a hard time sharing the new things he got for Christmas. I want him to share with his friends when they come to play. The last time I made him share and he threw a temper tantrum. I was so embarrassed! How can I make him be more considerate?



Sounds like you’ve got high expectations of your son’s ability to share. Too high. It’s time to reeducate yourself and give your little guy a break. Children need to learn possession before they are able to share. If a child has fully had his possession needs met sharing will spontaneously begin to occur somewhere around 3 1/2 to 4. If, however, your son has been asked to share before he was ready, it may take a little longer.

The other thing to consider is that he probably loves his new things and is feeling protective of them. Would you be willing to share the new diamond earrings your husband just gave you for Christmas? Maybe.

Anyway there is a way both of you can succeed. Prepare for play dates beforehand. Ask your child to pick a few toys he is willing to share. Pre Christmas toys are just fine. Then ask which of his new toys he would like put completely away so neither he nor his friend will be tempted. Decide together what you will do if he becomes unable to share the things he’s designated. I would suggest they too get put away, or the play date is ended. Make sure to schedule a date for the appropriate amount of time. I’d start with 45 minutes and increase by 15 minutes the next time if he and his friends were able to get along. Lastly, avoid putting yourself or your child in a “corner” by needing to “make” him do something in front of his or your peers. It is a set up for a melt down.

P.S. It is impossible to “make” anyone else do anything. Instead, decide what YOU will do, tell folks your plan, keep your mouth shut and act. Chew gum and hum if you are tempted to remind or nag.