Ask Amma

Sharing with playmates?

In How on 26 September 2011 at 8:31 am

My toddler is less than generous about her things –toys, books etc. with others of her age group (though she loves to share food). How do you develop attributes of sharing, caring, and being sensitive to others’ needs in an infant/ toddler?

When babies’ needs – which are simple and few – are met fully and joyfully, they live in abundance, without a sense of scarcity or hoarding. This shows in your daughter’s generosity with food. Since I have seen otherwise, I don’t believe the oft-repeated theories stating flatly that toddlers are too young to share.

If anything, I find that selfishness and "it’s mine" are learned behaviours. I have actually seen kids who, puzzled by such behaviour, looked to their elders, and were told to respond in kind: "If he doesn’t give you that toy then you tell him this one is yours and he can’t have it." They believe that they are helping their children toughen up.

When other children played with my daughter’s toys, I would encourage her to take it as a compliment – "your ball is so much fun, that others also like to play with it." When other children rode her tricycle, I heard her say the same, "my tricycle is so nice, everyone rides it!" I also tried to model sharing and sensitivity by speaking as I would like to be spoken to, or better still, as I would like her to speak to others.

What toddlers may be too young for are other toddlers. Many children play better in mixed-age groups. Though all of us have seen how well a 1 year old plays with a 4 year old, a 2 year old with a 5 year old, etc, we still find organized playgroups sorted into narrow same-age groups. Amma has decided to simplify this for you with a formula: the playmate for a child of age x should be age y, where

y = x + 4x / (x+1) +/- x^(1/2)
for ages 6-8 use: y = x + 4x / (2x+1) +/- x^(1/2)

Note: x^(1/2) means "square root of x"

So we get the following values

x y

1 3 +/- 1

2 4.6 +/- 1.4
3 6 +/- 1.7
4 7.2 +/- 2
and so on. Parents can customize this formula by introducing a coefficient a to the square root 😉 364

  1. Can you please simplify the age formula so that a child of age ~9 1/2 can understand it (and get some math practice at the same time)?

    – Child of age ~9 1/2 (Khiyali)


    • hmm, why don’t you just leave off the 1/2 and try it with age 9 years and let me know if what you get sounds right to you?


      • Maybe you misunderstood. The problem was actually that the MATH was too complex for the brainpower of a child of ~ 9 1/2 years, regardless of the number chosen to be ~ the child’s age


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