Sound familiar? "Pre-schoolers are naturally self-centered," says Nora Newcombe, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Temple University. And one way they assert their independence is by holding tight to their possessions. Still, there are ways to jump-start generosity:
SHOW HER THAT YOU SHAREKids do what they see their parents do, so point out examples of your own turn-taking: When you and your spouse are looking at different sections of the newspaper, for example, explain, "Mommy and Daddy are sharing the newspaper. I have the news section and Daddy has the business section. When we finish, we'll give them to each other."
TEACH THE GOLDEN RULE"Young children are most likely to share if they understand why they should," says Newcombe. So explain that her generosity makes other people feel good: "Do you remember how happy you were when Jimmy let you play with his new car? That's how happy Andrew is when you share your trains."
STOW THE UNTOUCHABLESBefore a playdate, let your youngster put away a few treasured toys. Melissa Nelson, a mother of five in Grapevine, TX, set up a "sharing zone" in her house. All toys kept in the playroom are for everyone to use, and a few special items, like 5-year-old Mitchell's dinosaurs and one of 3-year-old Faith's baby dolls, stay in the children's bedrooms and are individually owned.
It also helps to remind your child how sharing works: "You'll play with a toy first, and then you'll give Jordan a chance to play with that toy."