Teaching a child to share is always such a challenge for parents. The important thing for parents to remember is that developmental readiness is key.
Sometimes, with the best of intentions, parents “force” children to share. This practice actually shuts down the natural learning process. The natural precursor to true sharing is turn taking. Instead of telling young children to share, it is best to start with a system of turns. Using an audio cue, such as a timer, a child begins to understand this back and forth process. Short turns is critical. When I say short, I mean short…such as 30 seconds.
One child gets the toy and the other is screaming. The timer goes off and the other child gets the toy. Now the first child is screaming! But wow…in just a short time, each child has been given enough turns that they begin to manage the time between turns more effectively. They start to understand that they really will get the toy back.
Sometimes it shocks parents when I say that children should not have to share everything. It is okay for each child within the home to have something that they don’t have to share. As adults, we do not share everything. It is so important for parents to respect this part of the learning process.
When my children were young and we had children over our house to play, I would ask my children, “what do you want to put up?”
We would put a few toys away and the rest of the toys would be available to everyone. We would take turns if a conflict erupted. By allowing them to put a few things away first, it honored them and actually opened them up to WANT to share. It has to come from within and when you see a child develop in this area, it will be beautiful to witness.
So when it comes to your children and sharing, set them up for success. Children need to be taught and guided and this is definitely an area that underscores this need. Understand their developmental stage and be conscious about your teaching and believe me, when you see this behavior come from within, it will bring tears to your eyes.
Photo from: https://flic.kr/p/5NAgHs