05 December 2011 ~ 0 Comments

A guide for teaching your child to share

“No it’s mine, gimme, it’s my turn, I want it”.

Oh the joys of blissful play time at home, in school, at parties. It is hard not to charge into a child’s play when children begin to quarrel. If children are fighting over a toy, often the adult marches in and removes the toy saying triumphantly “now it’s mine”. Do you think this displays good conflict resolution? What example are you setting?

By doing this rash action, we have just taught the children involved some new skills:

  • Grabbing
  • Using an “I told you so” tone
  • Showing that greed and force wins

Not exactly an ideal set of lessons for the day.

We must remember that children are naturally selfish

It all comes down to the basic human instinct of survival. The idea that I need that to survive. In the eyes of a child, they need that piece of Lego like their life depends on it. Children will always look after number one. What we need to do is help them to control this strong emotion and to understand it better. Children need to practice the art of sharing to assist their social development and making friendships.

As I have said in previous posts, children learn by example. So let’s see how we can set good examples of sharing.

How parents can set good examples of sharing

1. As children are naturally selfish, break them in gently. Before arranging sharing experiences allow children to put away favourite toys that they feel too attached to to share. This could avoid a melt down moment. As time goes on they may see the fun of sharing their toys and as they progress they may not need to continue to put away these toys.

2. Provide sharing experiences and opportunities by inviting friends over to play.

3. Don’t assume kids know what this word “share” means. All words are new to young kids. Actively show them by using physical objects as examples e.g. break a cookie in half and share it. Share some pieces of Lego equally. Tell them this is how we share.

4. Reward good sharing with positive praise, encouragement, smiles to show approval.

5. Talk about disagreements when they occur during play and show the children how to negotiate an agreement. Eventually they will adopt the ideas in other situations with independence and confidence.

6. If the children will not share or come to agreement it is ok to remove the disputed item. But do not claim victory over it, as I mentioned previously. Put it in a visible place and suggest a solution. Tell the children they can have time to think about it. If they really want it enough they will come to an agreement. They will see and learn if they don’t share and agree nobody gets to use it.

7. Provide strategies for kids to use independently so that they do not always need adult intervention. Some strategies include: draw straws, write a number between 1-10 biggest number wins, flip a coin, spin a bottle, rock/paper/scissors.

8. A timer may be useful for sharing a toy e.g. alarm/sand timer or clock/stop watch. Here is a link to a great online visual for a range of visual timers http://www.online-stopwatch.com/eggtimer-countdown/

9. Set boundaries at the beginning of play times. Remind children to use kind words, hands, voices and that sharing makes you happy.

10. Play board games that encourage sharing and turn taking.

Do you have any tips on encouraging sharing?

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