How to Teach your Child to Share
Teaching children to share can be stressful. At around age 2, they use the words no and mine frequently. But mine doesn’t always mean what is theirs. They often use it when they see something they want, usually a toy another child is playing with. Until they are about 3, children don’t understand the concept of sharing. And until age 5, children don’t have the skills to resist their impulses and put the needs of others first. But you can’t wait until age 5 or even 3 to teach your child to share. So here are some simple concepts you can use to teach your child to share from a young age.
Children are like sponges. They absorb what goes on around them, how other people act and speak and they learn from watching that behaviour. So make sharing an everyday part of life. You can do little things like offer your child or your partner some of your snack. Getting other adults involved and not just making it about your child also shows that your child that sharing is something that we all do. So be aware of situations where you can actively show sharing skills, such as taking turns to choose where you go out to eat or who gets to use the shower first. Try to use the word share in these scenarios so that your child is used to hearing the word and seeing the concept in action. By showing your child how that you share, you will teach your child that sharing is just a part of normal life.
Respect their Favorite Possessions
We all have that shirt or dress or book we don’t want to share because it’s important to us and we don’t want to risk not getting it back – or getting it back damaged. Children are no different. Most children have that favourite teddy that they carry everywhere or the book they love you to read 30 times a day. Just like adults, children will worry about getting their toys and books back. So show their possessions some respect. Encourage siblings to ask permission before borrowing each other’s toys. And if they borrow them, make sure they give them back. If children see they will get their favourite possessions back, they will be more likely to share. Teach them to put away any toys and books that are special before a playdate or do it for them. This shows your child you respect their favourite things.
Compliment When they Share
As adults, we often forget to pay compliments to people when they have done something good or carried out a task well. Children like to get positive feedback, just like adults. So if your child shares, don’t forget to acknowledge that. Let them know that you’re pleased with them. Tell them you are proud of them. Positive reinforcement is an excellent tool to help encourage your child to repeat this behaviour again – they will remember the good feeling they had when they shared with their siblings or friends and you complimented them. They will want to feel that way again, so next time you ask them to share, they will be more inclined to do it. And they might even make the choice to share without you having to tell them.
Sharing is a valuable skill that all children need to learn. It’s a skill that we still require as adults. It’s stressful to teach your children to share, but by following these tips you will teach your children to share from a young age. Being able to share requires skills such as empathy and compassion. By teaching your child to share, you are teaching them these valuable skills which they will use as they get older. Of course it will take time, but by encompassing sharing into everyday life for you and your children, you will teach your children to share with siblings, friends and adults.