“Sharing is caring,” it’s a phrase that we parents have grown up listening to and often pass it on to our children. Children follow from those around and pick up cues from the adults they witness in their immediate environment. As parents, we must respect their need and desires and acknowledge the same.

5 tips to teach your child to share:

1. Making it clear:

The term, ‘taking turns’ helps children to understand sharing better. If you explain the same concept applies to toys as well, that everyone gets a turn, then they’re more likely to give it to someone else. They’ve learned to take turns through infancy through their babble conversations with you so it’s not completely new to them.

2. Pointing it out:

Pointing out what other people do is an effective way of planting the seed in them. Noticing people share every day will enable the children to share in the day to day life. Pointing out good sharing with others, especially in their friends can prompt the child to share immediately.

3. Acknowledging sharing:

Recognize, acknowledge and applaud your child for sharing anything. This positive response in front of others will aid in the repetition of the action. When they take turns, point it out and praise them for their actions.

4. Playing games:

Games are the language that children understand easily. Hence, turn sharing into a game. Make your child and their peer takes turns to play, share two toys at the same time. For example, if one wants a blue car, then the other gets the red truck. Thus, sharing becomes a fun activity.

5. Prepping and talking:

Prep for play dates by allowing your toddler to choose their most prized possession to set aside before other children come along. This way they will be more willing to share the rest of their toys. Siblings, especially older brothers and sisters, can have some toys designed just for them. In an environment where other people are sharing, it is important to talk about sharing with others and including others in their group.

Different for all ages: Toddlers & Preschoolers

Toddlers:

At this age, the children are aware that they are the centre of everything and have the magical powers to turn their wishes into reality. As a parent, you might notice that your 3 years old might throw a tantrum when asked to share their toys with another child. Ask them to take turns and share, they might slowly grasp the concept of ‘taking turns.’ When another child has something a toddler really wants, that toddler will probably find it very hard to wait his turn. The toddler might even try to get the toy any way they can.

Preschoolers:

At the pre-school age, the children are ready to grasp the concept of taking turns. The difficulty is when they have to put this into action as they’re impatient to take turns. One should be real and comprehensible that preschoolers are very focused on themselves and other people’s emotions don’t matter.

Patience, deft and gentle coaching:

Inculcate certain principles in toddlers which will make them cooperative beings later on.  These values can be embedded in their nature through certain strategies adopted by parents:

1. Model sharing: Children learn best when they witness the same behavior in their vicinity. We must lead by example and model sharing in front of them. For example, share your food with them, maybe a slice of chocolate cake; you could offer to share your favorite accessory with them such as sunglasses, hat etc.

2. Show not tell: Instead of repeatedly telling them to share, we must show the children how it’s done. Become a child and get on the floor with them. Roll a ball between your child and you. While you do this say, “Now it’s my turn, now it’s’ your turn. Roll it back to mom.” This way they get the idea that sharing means taking turns.

3. Roleplay: It’s a powerful tool to put oneself in another person’s shoe. Ask your child, “Put yourself in your friend’s shoe. What will he say about you if he saw you using his toolset?” That would put the focus on their friend’s emotions.

4. The ‘right’ way: As a parent, I emphasize right and wrong in every decision. Hence, I find rehearsing the ‘right’ way a method to show that sharing is the correct action. Often children resort to grabbing and it’s vital to show how one doesn’t need to snatch. One of the ways one can do this is by pretending to be your child’s friend. Through role play, ask your child to always give the first preference to the friend, by doing so you’re giving someone else a chance.

5. Setting a consequence: Parents set a consequence when their child breaks rules. Some resort to “time out” when their child refuses to share or abide by their regulations. The most common consequence which has been tried and tested is not allowing your child to play if he denies sharing.

Nancy Bruski, the author of The Insightful Teacher, notes that “It is necessary for young children to learn how to cooperate in the use of classroom materials; however, sharing often involves giving up what one has so that someone else can have it, and this is very difficult for young children. Children become attached to things they invest themselves in, whether it be toys, materials, ideas for play, or being first in line. Sharing is challenging and something that is learned slowly.”