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Calin Vasile Ilea/Getty Images/iStockphoto

The question

My kid is a bit of a bully at daycare, not sharing toys or playing well with others. Should I be worried? How can I get him to be nicer?

The answer

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If your child is in the toddler age, you need not worry about it if he finds it hard to share. Toddlers are selfish by nature.

Teach him to be nicer by being a role model. When you have an opportunity to share some food with him, or share some crayons when you draw pictures together, do so with deliberately pointing out that you are sharing. Set an example that he may be able to imitate.

Children at this age don't always understand the benefits of being nice by sharing and helping. Yet they can be taught over time. It takes consistent practise and much patience. Reading children's books with him on how to be nice may be useful.

Doing chores together where you and your toddler help other can teach him the value of being generous.

Be quick to praise him when he shares; positive reinforcement is powerful over time!

Some experts point out that when toddlers are forced to share their favorite items against their will it does more harm than good. (The toddler shares to avoid punishment; thus the motive is incorrect).

Have his friends over to your home, away from the daycare, where he can learn to share over time in a more familiar environment and under your supervision.

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Over time he will not be threatened by the loss of a toy which is only temporarily if everyone takes turns.

Bullying others and aggression, even in young ones, should not be tolerated. Consequences such as time out will teach him that hurting others is unacceptable. He may feel threatened by others especially if his self-esteem is low. Ensure you nurture his self-esteem so that he feels good about himself.

Send pediatrician Peter Nieman your questions at pediatrician@globeandmail.com. He will answer select questions, which could appear in The Globe and Mail and/or on The Globe and Mail web site. Your name will not be published if your question is chosen.

Read more Q&As from Dr. Peter Nieman.

Click here to see Q&As from all of our health experts.

The content provided in The Globe and Mail's Ask a Health Expert centre is for information purposes only and is neither intended to be relied upon nor to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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