Not sharing with other kids and family members is common with toddlers. But you can still learn how to teach your child to share with these 7 practical tips.
Kids are notorious for not sharing. They won’t let other kids play with sand toys. They refuse to let go of the steering wheel at the park. And they hold tight to their belongings even if they weren’t interested in them a minute ago.
Normal it may be, we still want to teach our kids to share. We want them to learn how to interact with other kids or siblings.
My toddler twins are learning the value of sharing and turn-taking by default. Stuck with each other the whole day, they’ve had to share more than the typical kid. Whether it’s sharing a coveted toy or even the chance to sit on my lap, they’re forced to learn how to share.
How to teach your child to share
These seven tips have been effective because they don’t force kids to share. Instead, they encourage a genuine willingness to play well with one another.
Turn-taking is a fantastic way to encourage children to interact with others in a fair way. Practice turn-taking at home to get in the habit of giving to others.
For instance, hug a teddy bear, saying it’s mama’s turn to hug. Then hand the bear to your child and say, “Now it’s your turn to hug the bear.” Keep the game going, passing the bear back and forth while saying whose turn it is to hug.
Praise your child when you see her sharing.
Kids respond best to positive reinforcement. It’s better to praise your child when she’s behaving than pointing it out when she’s not. This applies to sharing as well. Praise her when she shares with others, no matter how small the gesture.
Don’t punish your child for not sharing.
I’m not a fan of forcing kids to share. Young kids especially believe everything they see belongs to them. Not sharing is normal, and your child is behaving how any other would. We can encourage kids to share, but we shouldn’t force them to or punish them. At most, say you’re disappointed and leave it at that.
Model sharing behavior yourself.
Kids learn best from what they see us do, so share your own things with them. Eating raisins? Share a few with your child, and point out how you’d love to share with her. When playing a game of building blocks, share your pieces with the rest of the family. She’ll learn that everyone shares, and not just kids.
Don’t focus so much on labeling possessions.
Does it drive you crazy when your child screams “Mine!” when someone else tries to play with her toys? One of the ways to change this is by not saying which items belong to whom. If she tries to play with the remote control, don’t say, “That’s not yours” or “That’s mine.” Instead, say “We shouldn’t play with the remote control.” You’re changing your child’s automatic response of “Mine!”
That said, sometimes it’s important to point out when we own certain things. For instance, she might have her own special stuffed animal.
Make toys communal.
For those with more than one child, refer to your kids’ toys as everyone’s toys. You’re encouraging communal ownership rather than a single person owning particular items. Your kids won’t feel like they must guard their items from their siblings.
Again, you might have a few exceptions. Beloved toys or choking hazards need to stay away from younger children. But encourage a shared view of toys instead of a “that’s mine” and “that’s yours” mentality. Better yet, make playing together a group activity that’s just as fun as playing by yourself.
Even though not sharing is normal, it can still be frustrating for you to deal with. Don’t worry: you can still do your part in helping your child learn to share. Praising her when she does share. Practice sharing at home. And change how you address personal and communal items. With small but effective changes, she won’t be the terror at the library and will learn to share on her own.
Get more tips:
- Why Kids Shouldn’t Be Forced to Share
- What to Do if Your Child Shows Off to Others
- Nobody’s Perfect, Including Our Kids
- How to Stop Siblings from Fighting and Teach Conflict Resolution Instead
- 12 Children’s Books that Reinforce Positive Behavior
Tell me in the comments: How do you teach your kids to share?
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