Children can be sweet and angelic, but the one commonality with most of them is their stark refusal to share their possessions. Although the instinct to hoard things is natural, sharing is a very important skill to maintain in today’s society. While little children may have a hard time learning to be okay with sharing, they’ll be able to learn to be generous through your perseverance. To help you with this process, we’ve compiled a list of handy tips and tricks for getting your child to develop the habit of sharing. Although meant for younger kids, these ten tips will be effective for children of any age.
Step one, of course, is to be generous yourself. Children tend to follow a “monkey see, monkey do” routine, and so the best way to get them to follow a habit is to do it yourself. There are all kinds of ways to make a point of sharing, from giving to the homeless to sharing the television remote at home. Make sure to point out that you’re sharing your possessions to your kids each time you do it, and explain how the action is making everyone happier. You can also get older siblings to share more to add yet another role model into your little one’s life.
In order to get your child to share, you’ll need more than just acting upon it for yourself. A creative way to introduce sharing is to play some games and do some activities that subtly teach your little one to share. For example, you could create a painting together, which gives you a chance to share brushes, paints, and canvas space. As an alternative, hot potato is also a great sharing game that gets your child to pass the ball to other people. Although games like these aren’t directly getting your little one to share their possessions, it’ll help build the beginnings of a great habit.
Sometimes, acting preemptively is the best option if you want to get your kids to share. If a friend is coming over, you should have a talk with your child beforehand about being a good host and letting the friend play with their toys. To encourage sharing more, you can ask any guests to bring their own toys over as well. All kids love a chance to play with something new, and your child will be itching to get their hands on their friend’s toys. Creating this interaction will allow your child to learn that in order to play with someone else’s toys, they must also learn to share their own!
Another way to get your child into the habit of sharing is to start practicing taking turns. Whether it’s a favorite toy or gaming time on the iPad, getting your child to take turns with siblings and friends will help them understand the idea of sharing. You can assure your little one that the process will be fair in order to encourage them to hand over the desired item. For example, you can keep a timer on your phone, with each turn lasting for ten minutes. Another good way to take turns is to complete an arts and crafts project together, as this activity offers several opportunities to share tools and materials.
Often, the excuse for not sharing an item could simply be that it “belongs” to only them. While this is true for certain personal possessions, it’s generally a good idea to stop labeling toys and household objects as “yours” or “mine.” For example, if your child is messing with the television remote, try asking them to stop instead of casually saying “that’s mine.” Furthermore, when gifting children with toys and games, explain that the item is shareable between siblings and friends instead of just allowing your child to take complete ownership. By keeping certain items more public, you’ll be encouraging your child to get used to the idea of sharing.
Children of similar ages have the same language, and it’s quite amazing how they can negotiate and discuss their own problems without adult intervention. While talking to your kids could be very beneficial, sometimes it’s best to leave them alone and see how things play out. For example, you shouldn’t jump right in when you hear squabbling over a toy, especially if your child is no longer a toddler. More often than not, the kids will work out a system of taking turns or sharing. What you can do, instead of telling your child to give up the toy, is to ask them to talk calmly and reach an agreement.
While most things should be shareable, you should accept that children will have one or two special items close to their heart. After all, you wouldn’t share your most important possessions with just anyone, either. If your child has a special teddy or blanket that they just wouldn’t share, the best thing to do is to allow them to keep it private, but still discuss the possibility of sharing. During your talk, you should definitely mention that it’s okay to have favorite possessions, but it’s kind to still let friends and siblings borrow the item. If your child is unwilling, it may be best to allow them to keep certain items private and focus on sharing the rest. Just make sure that your child isn’t hoarding all of their toys and games!
Raising a child with great habits takes an amazing amount of patience, tolerance, and time. To help ease the process of learning to share, you should keep an eye out for teaching moments in everyday life. If your child is talking of conflicts or fighting at school, ask them how they could have handled things better, and work out a way to take turns or calmly have a discussion in the future. At the grocery store, talk about sharing food and treats with friends and siblings, and ask your child to pick out some treats for other people along with his own. Sharing lessons can be taught in a wide variety of places, you just need to see the potential.
Studies have shown that praise will be more impactful to a child than yelling, so make sure to show some love for correct behavior! Instead of yelling at your child when they fail to share, focus on the positives of their behavior. Bring up how they did very well sharing another item, and ask them to do the same in the current situation. Children will respond far more positively if you offer them your best attitude, and it’ll save a lot of tears and frustration along the way. Plus, offering praise regularly will be a huge booster to your little one’s self-esteem and self-confidence!
Children look up to kids older than them, whether it’s a babysitter, friend, or sibling. Instead of talking directly to your child, you can try to have a discussion with an older, more understanding kid about your little one’s sharing problems. Ask them to play some sharing games, practice taking turns, and essentially practice the other tips on this list in place of you. Not only will you save yourself some worry and trouble, but you’ll find that kids may respond to people of similar age much better than an authority figure. Plus, it’ll be a great way to get your older kid into good habits as well!