Posted , updated Dec 08, 2008.
All parents want their child to be willing to share. Well-intentioned parents and teachers may force a child to share. It seems selfish not to, but that is not the case.
Young children are finding their self-identity. Objects are a part of who they are. To part with them is like losing a part of themselves. “It’s mine” proves their separateness.
Sharing takes time. Children need to establish ownership before they are ready to learn to share. A child will not firmly grasp the idea of sharing until age six or seven.
Define Sharing. Children often think you are asking them to give away their toy. Explain it means they get it back. “If I share this toy with you, I get it back. If you share your toy with me, you get it back.” It also means giving up a part of something like a cookie.
Model Sharing. Children learn by example. Use the word sharing when you let them have some of your pizza or use your scarf. Model not sharing too. “I’d rather not share my necklace. Use this one.”
Respect Personal Items. Children need to know it’s ok for some things not to be shared. “This is your coat and hat for only you to wear.” Let them decide which toys they are ready to share.
Build Empathy. Point out feelings and consequences. “See how upset he is when you grab his toy.” “She feels sad when her doll is away from her.” “See how happy she is you shared your toy.”
Validate Feelings And Ideas. “I see you both want it. What could you do?” Give ideas such as, “ Take turns or find another truck. Can you find a way to play together?”
Consider Activities. It’s easier to share items a child gets a part of, like sharing cookies, and items there are more of, like crayons or cars.
Share Stories. Ask children to make-up a story about a child who doesn’t want to share. Tape the story and play it back. Tell a story part way and ask them what they would do.
Recognize Efforts. Attention and praise reinforces behavior. “I like the way you let her play with your doll.”
With parent’s helpful guidance, children learn to share in time.
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