Sharing is a social convention and therefore it’s not instinctive. Instead, kids need to learn how to do it. The art of sharing is learned at around age 2-3 years. If you go into a playgroup, childcare or kindergarten setting you will see the struggles as kids fight over toys and other activities which catch their eye. Staff at these places have their work cut out for them as teaching children to share can be brutal. Tears, tantrums, hitting and biting can take place, just so the child can end up with what they want. Lets face it, toddlers are very ego centric little characters.
If you are in a single child family, you may find that sharing isn’t one of your child’s strong suits, even into their primary school years. This age group can be very determined and their inability to share can translate to problems at school and at home. Luckily we have some great tips for you to help your child to share regardless what age they are.
- First and foremost, role model sharing in your home. Kids learn a great deal from watching adults around them. If you have a TV, computer or technology hog in your home; they are encouraging selfish behaviour. Role model sharing of these types of items and it will go a long way to help your child learn how to share.
- Use daily life situations to encourage sharing. For example; chores that are age appropriate such as setting the table or putting toys away are easy chores for children. Allocating these types of chores to your child will encourage them to help around the home and are a great tool to teach sharing responsibility.
- Board games or other types of games are not only great fun, especially in winter, but also encourage your child to take turns and share. Don’t set it up for them to win, because they need to learn that everyone will have their turn at winning and loosing.
- Make up your own games as well. For example; rolling a ball to one another as you sit inside on the floor. Only the person with the ball gets to speak. This not only teaches your child to take turns but opens up a forum for communication. Take turns picking the topic you discuss. It can something like “What’s your favourite?” The person with the ball asks the question and then rolls the ball to the next person for them to answer. Learning when to take turns speaking is a vital tool for school and an essential life skill.
- As your child continues to learn new skills, invite other children to your home. This will be the ultimate lesson in sharing. Setting up toys to play with, which are not your child’s favourite, will reduce the impact of your child reacting to others playing with their toys. Initially be prepared for problems but acknowledge they will ease as the experience becomes more familiar.
Using simple techniques both at play and around the home can teach children how to share. Persist in anything you want your children to learn and it will eventually happen.
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By Kim Chartres