28/10/2009 08:27 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Ask Joanne - My Daughter Won't Share At Nursery

What's your parenting dilemma? Send it in to experienced life coach Joanne Mallon at this address and say if you'd like your name changed.

Kate asks:

My daughter loves going to nursery, but has difficulty with sharing and doesn't seem to acknowledge the teachers or engage very much with the group, choosing instead to try and stockpile toys so that the other kids can't play with them.

She is an only child and this behaviour is consistent in some ways with her behaviour at home, although I am able to encourage her to share when we visit other children or others visit us, I just would like some tips on how to encourage her to be more sociable and obedient, how to listen and respond more positively with other kids!

I find that I am becoming frustrated and upset which leads to me finding it difficult to address the issues in a positive way!

Here's life coach Joanne's reply

Dear Kate

The crucial thing about sharing toys is that it's not like sharing a cake - you can't split the toy in half and each have a piece. So essentially, when we ask children to share toys, really what we are asking is that they give the toy to another child, or play with it together (which they may not be ready to do, developmentally).

Whilst we as adults may like to see children playing nicely together, it takes them a while to be able to do this. Many prefer parallel play, where they play alongside another child, rather than actually playing with them. Since your daughter is an only child, as you have seen, she has fewer opportunities to develop these social skills.

Sharing is a fairly mature concept that many children just don't 'get' naturally. You mean I have to give my toys away, just when I'm playing with them? How do I know I'll get them back? Some studies even claim that most pre-schoolers are selfish by nature.

So given that how she's behaving is actually pretty normal, what can you do to help?

  • You can explain sharing to your daughter in terms of taking turns - if she gives another child a turn, then her turn will come around again. Counting to ten can work - tell her she can have the toy till you count to ten, then count it out together and hand it over.
  • When you have visiting children coming ot your house, encourage your daughter to select toys she's happy to share with that person. This will help her feel more in control of the situation, and hopefully more willing to share.
  • When she's playing at home, ask to borrow a favourite toy. Show her that she can share things and they will come back. Share food at mealtimes, and she'll get the message that sharing can be good.
  • Have a meeting with her nursery key worker to find out how they approach this very common situation - hopefully you can follow the same strategies at home.
  • Board games and jigsaws are both great for building concentration and co-operative skills, so take time to do a few of these with her regularly.
  • Check out the book How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk for more strategies.

Best wishes


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