It is important to teach your child at a young age the importance of sharing. Most children become attached to their personal belongings around 3-4 years of age and this is when possessiveness needs to be nipped in the bud. For most parents, it can take quite of bit of time and work to teach the value of sharing, especially because your child may have tantrums in the process but don’t be discouraged. It’s a normal part of the child development process. With our tips on instilling the value sharing into your child, the transition should go rather smoothly.
- Make sharing fun! Get excited when showing your child how to share their toys and personal belongings. You can do role playing with your spouse or a family member so your little one can see how fun and nice it can be to share. Playing games that require sharing or taking turns is incredibly beneficial as well. When you have a play date scheduled, give your child things to share with his or her friend and say something like, “Here honey, why don’t you give this to your friend to play with?” Instill sharing in day-to-day activities to make it more accepted and understood.
- Lead by setting a positive example. Share things with your child to show him or her how nice it feels when someone shares their things with them. You can share your smoothie, iPad, pens and paper, dinner, just to name a few. Make sure to use the word ‘share.’ For example, “I would like to share my breakfast smoothie with you!”
- Use positive encouragement, not punishment. Don’t negatively discipline your child or tell your child he or she is being selfish if they don’t share. Why is this? Your child will become resentful and not want to be generous with his or her things. Reiterate why it feels good to share and how kind it is to share things with others as they share with him or her.
- Be patient. Learning how to share takes time and at this age, children are becoming independent so being possessive about his or her things is part of the growing process.
- Explain how the other person may feel. If your child doesn’t want to share, explain how it can make the person on the receiving end feel. And the same goes if another child doesn’t want to share with your child. Say something like, “He or she doesn’t feel like sharing right now. Maybe they will want to share in a little bit.” If your child won’t share, ask them why not and try to resolve the issue by positive reinforcement and open communication.
- Plan ahead. If your child has a play date or family activity planned, ask him or her if there are certain toys they don’t want to share that day. That way, you can place those aside and your child will be more open to share his or her other toys. Over time, your child will become more open to sharing all of his or her toys.
Instill the motto, “Sharing is caring,” in your child and over time, they will become more and more selfless. Your child is not “bad” if they don’t learn to share right away. It’s a natural thing for children to resist sharing but over time, it will become easier to understand the concept of sharing. Just be patient and nurturing and always remember to lead by example!