What To Say To Young Kids Instead Of 'Share,' And 'Wait Your Turn'

For a lot of parents, teaching their child how to share their belongings is important. After all, it’s a lifelong skill that should be taught while they are still in the playground. But each time a parent tells their child to “share,” “wait your turn” or “don’t touch,” they might actually be limiting their learning instead.

According to the Janet Lansbury blog, instead of constantly telling your child to share his or her belongings, health and child experts believe that you should let your child work through their struggles instead. Rather than monitor their play dates, let them engage in their own battles, even if they become messy, highly-charged or emotional exchanges with other tots their age.

Authors Magda Gerber and Alison Johnson of the book Your Self Confident Baby, suggest that each time you tell your child “don’t touch” or ask them “Who had it first?” you are separating your child from the situation, rather than including them in their play date. They point out that many parents arrange social situations for their child just to limit the way their son or daughter want to socialize to begin with.

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Magda Gerber says, “It’s obviously easier to separate two struggling children at the outset of a conflict. However, I feel that the earlier children learn to struggle, negotiate, and get along with others, the better off they’ll be. You may wonder how letting children struggle over a toy teaches them to get along with others. Struggle is a normal part of human relations.”

kids fighting over sharing
Credit: iStock / Zabavna

In addition, many parents tend to focus on “stuff” more than their child’s engagement. Magda further points out that most children will go through possessive phases, but they tend to pass them quickly, especially if a parent understands this and calmly accepts that his or her child won’t always be bothered to share their toys.

Lastly, many children grow up with too much of a dependency on adults. The more mom and dad intervene in their social situations, the less of a chance that the child will learn how to make constructive decisions on their own. Rather than intervene if you believe that your child’s behavior is questionable, try this instead: observe, assess and address each situation individually. Children learn rules much faster and can even take pride in them when they understand them better.

Also, offer the most minimal intervention in order to maximize learning. Children grow up to much more confident and have better problem solving abilities when they figure things out on their own.

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