Little children undeniably have a lot of difficulty in sharing with other children. This is true for all children, and the first step to teach them to share is to accept that it is normal at that age. As parents you must be wondering how to help your child to be generous. Toddlers are extremely possessive of their possessions, so you have to gently but consistently teach them the value of sharing in many different ways. Here are some tips to help you teach your child how to share:
10 Easy ways to teach your child to share
1. Teach by example
Children are very observant and try to sopy everything you do. They will talk like you, wear a scarf like you do, and so on. One of the best ways for teaching a preschooler to share is to show them by example. You could share your ice cream with them, which will demonstrate that a loved object can be shared with someone.
2. Understand their super-possesiveness
Like many parents, you may get upset when your child refuses to share his/her toys with their siblings or friends. They may bawl their little hearts out and scream at the top of their voices when some other child starts playing with their toys. To teach your child the importance of sharing, you have to first understand that being ‘selfish’ is a very natural part of the growing up process.
The child develops a sense of identity apart from the mother, and they form very strong attachments to their stuff and their possessions are part of their identity. The toys or the favorite toy is a part of themselves, their body even. So when they refuse to share, there is more than ‘selfishness’ going on. He/she feels extremely insecure when another person/child handles their toys, which brings on what we see as a tantrum.
3. When do children begin sharing
Experts say that it is difficult for very young children to share as they have not yet developed the ability to play ‘with’ others. Young children are not capable of sharing till they reach the age of six, when they understand that their toys will be returned to them. They have to learn to co-operate first, before they learn to share. When your child reaches kindergarten, they will slowly learn to interact with others and learn to play together.
This is when it becomes easier for them to share. But a two year old child too can be generous, especially with other children who they view as non-threatening – a child who is younger than them or a child who is quieter than them. Your child’s temperament also plays a role in sharing. Still, it would be unfair to expect your child to share his/her most prized possession, whatever the age. You would think twice about sharing a precious heirloom too, wouldn’t you?
4. Don’t force your child into sharing
While teaching the importance of sharing you have to respect your child’s wishes too. You do have to convey that sharing is very desirable, and explain the value of sharing. But never force your child to share when he or she is reluctant. They will associate sharing with being unhappy, if you force your kid to share. When they play with others, they will soon learn that if they never share their toys, no one will share with them either! Slowly, just because they want to play with other children’s toys, they will share their own toys.
5. Teach them through role play
In order to teach your child to share, one of the ways is through role play. Play with your child and just say no when he or she asks for something. When he becomes upset, then you can talk about how their friends/siblings feel when he says no to them. The next time your kid refuses to share, then you might remind gently about the way he felt and he/she most probably will start sharing.
6. Play sharing games
Teaching a preschooler about sharing becomes easier with games. You can play sharing games with your toddler and say things like ‘Give this to mommy, give this to big sister’ and so on.
7. Teach through chocolates
Make it a point to ask all your children to share their chocolates with one another. When your youngest child sees all the older ones happily sharing, he will also do the same. Give him the chocolate, and the important task of dividing it among everyone. The child will feel happy about being entrusted with such an important job, and will better about parting with their beloved chocolate.
8. Shower the praise
Children glow when they are praised. Be sure to pile on the praise accompanied by hugs and kisses when you notice that they are allowing others to touch and play with their toys. This encouragement will be a big incentive to keep on sharing. Your child, who is in kindergarten, will become as adept at giving as older kids when you continuously praise their generosity.
9. Plan beforehand
Be smart and plan ahead. If your child’s friend is coming for a playdate, ask the parents to send some toys with the child. Children love to play with new toys, so it will be easier for your kid to share his/her toys if he can get the chance to play with the other child’s toys too. Both the children will thus be playing happily in no time, as they feel it is just and fair to give their toys to one another. Children are extremely sensitive, and they feel upset if they are willing to share when the other child does not share.
10. Pick themes for playdates
When little children see the toys of other children, they have to have it! So it is best to select a theme like beach, or cooking, or farm etc so that all the kids play with the same type of toys. There will be much less squabbling between the kids, and less grabbing.
When you are teaching your kid to share, you have to protect him/her too. You can’t and you shouldn’t expect your child to share his most favorite toy, so initially don’t ask him/her to share that. In fact, protect it from other children, and when your child is secure and understands more about sharing, he/she will easily be able to share everything.