Teaching Children How To Share

Teaching kids how to share is not an easy feat. Even adults have difficulty getting the hang of sharing. No matter how parents try hard to teach this value to their children, finding the right balance is really difficult.

For most kids, learning to share doesn’t come easily. But following certain steps and empathizing with them can be parents’ gateway to helping this value take root in their kids. This is according to Harvey Karp, MD, author of The Happiest Toddler on the Block: How to Eliminate Tantrums and Raise a Patient, Respectful, and Cooperative One- to Four-Year-Old.

Until they reach the age of 3, most children are incapable of grasping the concept of ownership. But according to Karp, toddlers usually have their own sense of fairness. “With most of us it’s about 50-50,” he says. “For toddlers it’s more about 90-10. It’s, ‘Here, I’ll keep 90% and I’ll give you this one little toy.’”

The first reflex that parents usually have is to correct the child. However, we should refrain from doing so immediately. Parents have “to acknowledge the needs and the desires of the child,” says Karp. “When we just drop in and try to solve it, that doesn’t feel good. Children need to know their desires are appreciated and respected.” So, when your kid practices sharing successfully, show that you appreciate the gesture by verbalizing a sincere “nice job.”

Karp says children appreciate positive comments from a third party, much like adults, too. This technique can leave a good effect for both you and your child. Here are a few more tips on teaching your kids how to share:

Play dates. Allow your child to select his or her most precious possession to set aside before play date starts. Siblings can also have some toys set aside just for them.

Explain it clearly. According to Karp, children can better grasp the concept of sharing if you use the term ‘taking turns.’ This is because when they were still infants, they have learned to take turns in “baby conversations” with their caregivers. Explain that the same rule applies with toys. Emphasize that everyone gets a turn.

Point out real life examples. Karp says if you see live and in-action situations where sharing is demonstrated, immediately point it out to your child. This is “an effective way of planting the seed.”

When children learn how to share at a young age, they can grow to be compassionate and unselfish adults who are able to understand the value of sharing. Now tell us how you yourself learned how to share!

Image: Let Kids Play!