Parents are the people from whom children learn many important life lessons.
Grabbing the hot pan on the stove is one lesson that is learned quite quickly. Mom told you not to touch it! Other lessons are often more painful and take longer to learn. Teaching children to share is one of the most essential lessons they’ll learn to help them navigate life. If you’re struggling to help your little ones understand that the word “mine” doesn’t need to be their mantra, try these seven creative approaches.
Don’t Force It
Forcing your child to do anything rarely seems to work out in your favor. That goes for sharing too. Try fostering an environment that encourages children to take turns. Kids will learn that they get their toy back even though they let a friend or sibling borrow it for a bit.
Young children seek parental approval. So, use that to your advantage.
When your child shares a toy, be it on their own or through your encouragement, offer them praise. They’ll make the connection that their deed earned an upbeat reaction from you. That will help them start to see sharing in a positive light.
Sharing Activities for Children
Activities that incorporate sharing are another way to teach children about sharing. Here are a few to get you started.
- Painting Pictures – Color or paint pictures together. You’ll have to agree on a subject. And then you’ll have to share the crayons or paints. But, you’ll be creating together.
- Share Your Attention – Have two of your children sit next to you or on your lap. Then, play different games with each child. The one waiting for their turn learns to share your attention with a sibling.
- Give Out Snacks – Give your child crackers or cookies to distribute to each person in the room. This shows them that sharing is one of life’s daily occurrences.
Isolate Favorite Toys
Children might have trouble sharing their favorite toys at playdates. Help your child put aside a couple of all-time favorite toys before the playdate begins. That allows children to still share toys while not feeling anxious when they might not be ready to share their favorite toys.
Sometimes a toy is simply too good to share. Both kids want to play with it. That’s where the clock comes in.
Each child gets to play with the toy for a specified time. The younger the children, the shorter the time. This method will, eventually, teach each child to willingly share the toy since they understand that they’ll receive a turn once the timer goes off.
Oh, those teachable moments parents yearn for!
What do you do if a friend won’t share with your child? Take your child aside and help them understand why their friend doesn’t want to share. That will give your child a perspective of why someone else might not want to share and why there’s value in finding another toy to play with instead.
Lead By Example
Actions speak louder than words. So, don’t just tell your children to share. Instead, show them how.
Share your snacks with your little ones. Be sure to verbally point out that you’re sharing your good fortune. The same goes for your spouse. Let him or her have the last one of whatever treat you’re enjoying together. Your children will see the two of you sharing.
You and your spouse can even split household chores. The kids will see mommy and daddy cleaning the dishes – one washes while the other dries. That puts a positive spin on doing chores and shows that everyone in the family should do them.
You will probably spend a considerable amount of time extolling the virtues of sharing to your children. Some days they will easily grasp the concept. Other days? Well, let’s just say that their enthusiasm for sharing might not pass the smell test.
But as they grow and mature, and you see your kids sharing eagerly, you will know you’ve done something right.
And that type of news is always worth sharing.