Sometimes, the idea of children sharing seems to be a lost cause. However, even preschoolers can learn to share, which is an important developmental milestone. While parents are all too familiar with the words “no,” and “mine,” it is possible to help your children learn to share in a few simple ways.
First of all, as with anything you’re trying to teach your child, it’s important to set a clear example of the behavior that you want to see. If you want to see children sharing, but show them through your actions that your things are off-limits, your child is bound to be confused. In addition to modeling how to share, make sure that you point out when your spouse, friends, or children so successfully share. A simple, “Thank you for sharing your toys with your brother,” points out the desired behavior while giving your child positive attention. In addition, your child may not be clear on what exactly sharing is. Repeatedly showing what the actual act of sharing means can help children sharing.
In addition, it is important to respect your child’s boundaries even as you are teaching him or her to share. Many people don’t realize that the things they are asking to be shared are extremely important to the child in question. The toys and supplies you are asking them to share may be the most important thing to them at that moment. You wouldn’t want to give someone your car or home just because they want it, would you?
Many young children don’t have the vocabulary to explain why they don’t want to share something, so talking them through it can help. Instead of just demanding that they share, try saying something like, “I know that stuffed animal is very important to you, but if your friend is very gentle with it, can he play with it for five minutes?” Another technique is to ask your child when they will be done with the toy and can their friend play with it when they are done. This helps a child start to think about when they will be ready to share while respecting that their feelings are important, and begins to teach child basic conflict-resolution techniques. After awhile, children will be able to tell each other, “I will be done in five minutes, and then you can have it.” This can make the difference between a child learning empathy and simply assuming that he is being disrespected.