“But MUUUUM, it’s MIIINE!” is any phrase more familiar to parents of siblings? If you have more than one child, teaching them about sharing is vital both for their future development and for your own future peace and quiet. Even if your little one is an only child, learning how to share nicely will be crucial to the way they socialise and make friends at school.
Here are our top five ways for showing kids that sharing is caring:
Choose Your Time Wisely
Very young children find it hard to understand the concepts of sharing and altruism. As far as little ones are concerned, they’ve only just learned how to recognise what belongs to them and now they’re expected to give those things away. Children can’t really empathise with others until they’re around two or three so there’s no point trying to get them to understand other children’s feelings before then. That’s not to say you can’t start young, but rather than trying to explain the benefits of sharing, play simple ‘My Turn, Your Turn’ games so that they don’t react badly when another child takes their things in the future.
Learning Through Play
Talking of games, learning through play is a great way to introduce the concepts of sharing to children of all ages. Sit siblings (or your child and your other half) down and ask them to play a game where they have to work together or to pass a contentious toy back and forth in order to achieve a pre-agreed goal. Not only will this show them that sharing can be fun, it will also help them learn how sharing can benefit everyone.
Use Your Words
When your little one is old enough to understand, it’s important to talk to them about the feelings and emotions involved with sharing and to help them try to see things from someone else’s point of view. Rather than telling them off for not wanting to share, ask why they don’t want to and question how it might be making other children feel. Make sure you praise them lots when they share of their own accord.
Do As I Do
Your child looks up to you and will often want to behave as you do. If you demonstrate sharing and generosity to them regularly, it will help them learn the behaviour from an early age as well as learning how nice it feels when someone shares with you.
Respect Treasured Possessions
We all have things that we don’t want to share, no matter how grown up we are! Forcing your child to share everything they own will only make them resent the act of sharing so try to respect that some toys and possessions are off limits. If your little one has a friend coming over, talk with them in advance about which toys they’re happy to share and which are ‘special’. If you’re having issues with siblings sharing, sit them down together to discuss which toys are under shared ownership and which are personal. That way, any special toys can be put away and conflicts avoided.