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Mar 29, 2010

Sharing & Helping - Recipe for happy toddler

Toddlers tend to have the reputation of having a hard time sharing and empathizing with others. It is definitely a tough concept to understand when they have spent most of their lives to date being the center of attention and getting everything they needed to help them survive the first couple of months/years.

At 2 years, it's time to learn to be less self-centered and to understand interactions with others. Daniel's daycare, the Children's Pre-School Center, does a wonderful job of teaching the kids to share, take turn and help each other. The daily reports focus a lot on the kids interactions with each other and how they are learning these basic skills.

Lately, it's been interesting to watch Daniel thrive when he is able to help and share. He progressively went from accepting he had to share/help (not an easy step to take!) to being eager to share and help.

Recently, we went to the zoo with another 2-year old friend of him, and Daniel was so excited to be able to share his snack with the friend. It was almost more important than being able to eat something himself (even though he had been saying he was hungry for about 30 minutes by then). At home, Daniel is always trying to share. He offers us some of his snack, or he tries to share his toys/pacifier with the soon to come baby (by pressing them on my belly - pretty cute although not very effective!). Sharing seems to make him so happy!

Daniel also wants to help. One of his favorite things to do is to bring my husband and me things that we left in another room and that he seems to think we really need right this minute (e.g. a sweater we left on the couch, my purse, shoes, etc...) It's cute because it's completely unprompted, and Daniel seems to be so proud of doing this... although in most cases we don't know what to do with what he brings.

The other day, Daniel really wanted to help as I was getting ready to leave home in the morning. He kept asking if I needed help. Unfortunately, I couldn't think of anything he could help me with. So he took it upon himself to go and close all the doors in the house. Not that we needed them to be closed. But Daniel felt so good about helping us get ready!

Another example happened tonight. I was preparing dinner and putting milk in Daniel's cup. Daniel really wanted to help prepare a drink for me too. He asked several times if I also wanted milk, or hot chocolate or orange juice. He pretty much went through the entire list of drinks he knew. I finally told him I only needed water. And this made him happy: he knew how to get my water (I usually have a bottle by my bed). As soon as I mentioned water, Daniel rushed to my room to get the bottle, and brought it to me. He was so excited to have been able to help!

It is so fun to watch how Daniel is developing his social skills and becoming so excited about helping and sharing. I hope this trend will continue for many years to come. It will be great when his helpful actions become more and more relevant for what we really need to help with. This could be so great!

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