It is ingrained in human nature not to share (especially in children). And thus, teaching a child to share can be a bit tricky. We went to one of the leading parenting experts to help guide us through the complex solutions to lack of sharing. Hopefully these tips from author, father and leading child physician, Dr. Sears, can help your children learn to share.
Lead by example
Children learn by watching others, especially their parents. How can a child learn to share his toys when a parent refuses to share theirs? We’re not suggesting you give up your vehicle to the neighbour, but when you have a sharing moment (for example, lending a friend a cookbook), make a point to bring up the topic of sharing with your child.
Giving to charity and asking your children to help you with this can also help. As you collect clothing, food and brick-a-brack that you no longer need, ask your children to do the same with their toys. Let them come with you to donate the goods and see the value in giving.
Don’t expect too much from young children
According to Dr. Sears, children have a hard time understanding and feeling empathy before the age of six. This makes sharing a bit tricky – when a child is not able to understand someone else’s feelings, it is hard to make him understand the motive behind sharing his prized possession with his sister.
Dr. Sears suggests that children under the age of two are, simply put, unable to easily accept sharing. They care about themselves and their possessions and, although they are happy to play alongside a child (known as parallel play), they really cannot grasp the idea that a child would want the same toy as them.
Use a timer
To help your children learn to share, they may need some guidelines. A timer is a great device to ensure both kids are getting an equal amount of time with a certain toy or device.
Offer plenty of praise
When your child does agree to share something special with a sibling or someone else, make a big deal out of it. Children are hesitant to give up something they love but this can be made a lot easier when they are rewarded for the behaviour. Bribing them or offering a tangible reward is not necessary – use your words to encourage them to continue to share.
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