Teaching kids to share may feel like a never-ending effort to re-program your children. It seems that most little ones are born with the instinct to not want to share.
Start early teaching your kids to share; it is a social skill they need so they can play cooperatively with friends and siblings and so they can learn how to handle the disappointment that comes with realizing that they cannot have everything they want. Sharing teaches kids to cooperate and compromise.
Sharing is one of those skills that you can begin teaching your kids when they are very young and you may find that you have to continue to reinforce sharing to your children even when they are into their teens.
As with many of the character traits that your kids learn, sharing is something that is often caught more than just taught. It’s not as easy as simply giving you a how-to list to follow that will result in a child who willingly shares all the time.
Sharing is a lifestyle that starts with how you live it out in front of your kids. Model sharing and taking turns to your children, whether it’s with food, treats, TV-time, tablet-time, while playing family games, or simply in receiving attention. As you live this virtue out in front of your kids, here are some other ways to encourage sharing every day:
Talk about Sharing.
Have a conversation about what sharing means, what it looks like and how your kids can work on sharing. Talk about why sharing is good for everyone involved. You can explain, ‘When you share your toys with your brother or sister, you all get to have fun’.
Sounds simple, but it takes intentionality to be on the lookout for opportunities to talk about and experience sharing.
Play games that require turn-taking.
As you play games that require sharing, explain to your child that “it’s my turn to throw the dice and now it’s your turn.” Don’t shy away from games because you fear that your child will throw a fit. If your child is not cooperating, you can say, “when you are ready to take turns or share, then you can come back and play with us.”
There may be that one special THING.
Whether your child is 5 and has a special toy that they do not want to share, or your child is 15 and has a special sweatshirt that they’d rather not share, it’s okay to respect those things. Sometimes there are items that your kids just aren’t ready to give up. They can explain, “That toy is very special to me and I’d rather you didn’t use it, but here are a bunch of others that you can play with.” Or if friends are coming over, have them take the toys they don’t want to share and put them away.
I talk a lot on my blog about parenting your child’s heart and sharing is a very good example of that. You can force your kids to share, but that will not teach them to share when you are not there to correct them. How much better to show them an example of sharing, to talk about why sharing is important and to give them opportunities to learn how to share.
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