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As you watch your offspring battle with his friends over his toys, it may be hard to believe that his selfishness is merely a phase. But don't worry too much – even the nicest of children have problems sharing at some point.
Why won't he share?
As a baby, your child was probably a natural sharer, handing you his rattle or thrusting his half-chewed rusk into your mouth at every opportunity. According to Dr Dale Hay, developmental psychologist at the University of Cambridge, babies 'share' as a way of communicating and bonding. "Babies have a powerful emotional impulse to interact harmoniously," he explains.
But reaching toddlerhood brings great changes in the way he interacts with the world, and this affects his behaviour. As your child begins to understand and use language more, sharing becomes less necessary as a means of communication, and you may suddenly discover him swiping toys from other children or have screaming fits if anyone touches his precious possessions.
At the same time, he's learning to be wary – he realises that not everything he shares comes back. The arrival of a new baby can also dampen generosity – particularly when the baby starts to help himself to treasured possessions!
From around two and a half, children often become more territorial and aware of what belongs to whom. This is a very positive stage – although it may have difficult consequences – because it means your child is developing a sense of identity.
How to generate generosity
With a little know-how, you can nurture an urge to share in your child.
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