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Parent Helpers

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Stop the Squabbles

Use these techniques to keep the peace at home and on playdates.

  1. Practice taking turns

    You flip one page of your child's bedtime storybook, then she flips the next. Your child stacks one block on top of yours, then you stack one on top of hers. This way your child will begin to learn that sharing and taking turns can be fun.

  2. Cheer small steps

    Toddlers sometimes show off their favorite toys - and even let friends touch them - without actually letting go of them. Encourage these first steps toward learning to share with lots of praise. Soon your child will feel secure enough to let go for a minute.

  3. Respect your child and her possessions.

    If your child thinks his toys, clothes or art supplies are in danger, he'll be unlikely to part with them. Remember to ask permission to borrow his colored pencils or take a bite of his cookie (and respect him when he says no). When he gains a feeling of control, he'll be more likely to share.

  4. Set the scene for sharing.

    Before a playdate, ask your child if there are certain cherished items she would rather not share. Put these away and ask her about toys that would be fun to share, like crayons, sports equipment and blocks. Encourage visitors to bring a toy of their own so everyone shares.

  5. Discourage tattling.

    If your child runs to tell you that her sister is pulling books off the shelf or her friend is refusing to play Barbies, tell her you're not interested in what others are doing. Let her know that you're interested to hear what she's doing, but don't want to hear the tattling. Of course, let her know the exception to this rule: if someone is getting hurt, you need to hear about it immediately.

  6. Acknowledge feelings

    Sometimes your little one really doesn't need the exact toy airplane his brother has. Instead he needs to have his feelings acknowledged. "Yes, I know you love airplanes very much, but your brother is playing with the silver one right now. I know it's hard to wait until he's done, but why don't we draw pictures of planes for a while?"

  7. Share more than just toys

    Teach your child that we share intangible things like thoughts and feelings rather than just toys. Show them how much fun it is to share words at the PBS Kids Share a Story site.

  8. Lead by example.

    The best way for a child to learn generosity is to witness it. Share a snack with your child. Offer to help a neighbor carry groceries or shovel snow. Show your child how good it feels to help someone else.

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