"No, it's mine!" Almost all parents struggle with their child's refusal to share at some point. After all, parting with something you like is never easy. And this is exactly why they need to learn it early on. Sharing teaches you to consider others and compromise and be fair.
According to the Child Development Journal, children as young as 12 months old begin bringing their toys to their parents in apparent acts of sharing. However, they focus more on meeting their immediate needs at this age. But as they grow older, their egocentrism dominates them and clouds their ability to empathise with others or share.
Today, we will look at how to teach your child the essential value of sharing and list practical parenting tips to share to help your kid become a compassionate and well-rounded individual.
Role of Sharing Play in a Child's Development
The feelings of sharing in children are much more than them allowing their friends to play with their toys. It is an essential value that significantly affects your child's ability to lead a happier and more productive life.
Let's understand why is sharing important for a child:
Some of the most important reasons why you should encourage your child to share early on include:
- It helps them build and maintain healthy relationships in life.
- Sharing is important for a child as it is a great way to learn how to manage and cope with emotions.
- It teaches them humility. By learning to share, they know that nothing is meant for one person’s happiness. The more you share, the happier everyone becomes.
- Sharing is an excellent way for children to learn how to deal with disappointment and channel it productively.
Ways to Encourage Your Child to Share
According to the Frontiers in Psychology Journal, by the time a child turns two, they start differentiating between themselves and others. They begin, in their own way, to regulate their emotions and engage in prosocial behaviours.
However, although the child starts developing these traits, they are still not mature enough to regulate their emotions. They usually share because you tell or praise them when they do. So, not wanting to share at this age is entirely natural. This is where the question of how can parents teach their children to share comes in.
Parents and their close relationship with their children form the base for their learning. Before we talk about parenting tips to share, let's understand the basic difference between the behavioural traits of children in different age groups:
Toddlers have no concept of sharing. They tend to display egocentrism, impatience, and even aggression. They must be constantly encouraged to share their things with others.
Children aged three and above understand that other children can play with what they want and are open to taking turns. However, they still may be hesitant about giving up their possessions, such as toys and books. At this age, parents should talk to their children about sharing and encourage them to share things with others.
Here are some effective and practical ways to teach your kids how to share.
- Become a Role Model
Children like imitating their parents. They pick the words you use, your habits, and even your values. When they see you share your things with others, they become more open to sharing their things too. The most straightforward answer to how parents encourage children to help others is by becoming good role models. This is the best way to teach the value of sharing and let them experience the happiness you feel afterwards.
For instance, if you are eating a fruit, offer a piece to your child. Or, offer food to an animal on the street or a homeless person to teach them to share. Such subtle example-led lessons last long.
- Make Sharing Normal
One of the best ways to teach sharing at different ages is to normalise it in their daily routine. Are you wondering how to do it?
A great way is to talk to your child about it. But remember not to lecture your kid. Instead, make sharing a part of everyday conversations. Give them examples. For instance, saying, 'how would you feel if Mark didn't share his toys with you' would help them put themselves in their friend's position and think accordingly.
- Offering Positive Reinforcement Goes a Long Way
Positive reinforcement and praise for your child for all the times they shared their belongings is a pretty effective way to teach this life skill to them. You can use phrases such as 'you did really well when you shared your toy with your friend' or 'see how happy you made your friend' to demonstrate how their sharing behaviour positively impacted someone else.
- Experiment with Sharing Games
Kids learn the best through games. And games and activities are the best way to take the stress out of teaching sharing and making it fun for them. Some examples of toddler sharing activities are:
- Invite your child's friends for a painting session. Roll out a large canvas or sheet of paper and put the supplies in a common space. This will allow them to share colours and brushes for them to paint.
- Set up a puppet show with a storyline that includes sharing. For instance, it could be a home set-up where different puppets are required to share food, clothes, and utensils.
Also Read: 15 DIY Kid Friendly Activities for Toddlers
What to Do When Your Child Doesn't Share?
Despite your best efforts, there may be instances when your child refuses to share. As frustrated as that may make you feel, patience is the key here. So, if you are thinking about how you deal with a child not sharing, here are some easy tips about how can parents teach their children to share:
- Know it is normal for kids not to share. Every child is wired differently, and will take time to get around this skill.
- Find out why your child does not share. Maybe their toy is a gift from their friend. Or, chances are that it is an entirely new thing for them. In some circumstances, tell your kids it is okay not to share. However, ensure that your child does not start hoarding possessions.
- Never force your child to share or admonish them during toddler sharing activities. Instead, make sharing fun and a way of life. Always be nice and polite when explaining about sharing to them.
- Start sharing more things than just food and toys. Emotional sharing is equally essential when recognising and accommodating others' feelings. For example, let them wait for their turn on the swing at the playground.
Teaching your child to share may not be easy, but the process is extremely rewarding. It will help your child lead a more fulfilled life and become a better person. These parenting tips to share are easy to follow and are a good start in introducing your child to good values and morals. Raising Superstars offers specialised prodigy programmes designed for young children and their parents. These programmes allow you to share quality time with your baby while they learn from and with you. For more practical ways about how parents can teach their children to share, get in touch with us today.