The concept of sharing can be difficult for a child to grasp. Most children under age 5 lack empathy and impulse control, which makes it difficult to teach your child to share. Possessiveness is completely normal for a toddler but can be frustrating for parents.
How to Teach Your Child to Share: The Golden Rule
Be sure your child sees you exercising kindness whenever the opportunity presents itself. Point out examples of kind acts and explain to them why it’s important. Don’t be forceful or impatient, as it will cause your child anxiety. Here are 5 ways to help teach your child to share:
1) Make Exceptions
We all have items that are precious to us. We likely wouldn’t want to share them, even as adults. Respect the possessions that your child treasures. If they have a special blanket or stuffed animal, don’t bring them to playdates or school. Put them away when other children come over.
2) Start Early
Even if your child isn’t old enough to understand concepts like generosity and cooperation, it’s never too early to introduce them. When sitting down for family dinner, encourage your child to wait until everyone has food to start eating. During bedtime rituals, practice taking turns. Infants and toddlers thrive on encouragement, so be sure to reward positive behavior.
3) Don’t Overreact
It can be embarrassing when your child behaves badly. For example, if you see your child push a playmate while trying to wrestle a toy from them, it’s natural to react with anger. Take a deep breath and stay calm. If the situation has devolved into a tantrum, remove your child until they are calm. Then ask them why they reacted that way and explain what they should have done differently. The teaching process can be frustrating for both parent and child, but rest assured your child will slowly learn.
4) Make it Fun
Encourage sharing by making it fun and stress-free. If you’re arranging a playdate, let your child help you pick a theme. If the theme is pirates, make sure each child has the same eye patch. Then ask the kids to trade. They’re more likely to agree, since all the patches look the same. Then praise them for sharing so well.
5) Lead by Example
Like most concepts, children learn a lot by watching the people around them. Take the opportunity to show a good example of sharing. When you prepare food, offer them a bite. Be clear that you are sharing with them because it’s the right thing to do. Ask them to share their food and toys with you and respond with encouragement and thanks. When you see other good examples of sharing be sure to point them out.
Much of the frustration in teaching your child to share comes from your own expectations. Cheer on small victories and resist the urge to react in anger when your toddler acts out. Ensure that they associate sharing with positive feelings, not punishment. Have a little patience.
For more ways to help teach your child to share, Contact Us.