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11 Ways to Teach Your Child to Share

11 Ways to Teach Your Child to Share

Children have difficulty sharing, especially young children. This is a normal part of the development process. Knowing and accepting this is the first step in helping your child grow up to be a generous person. Heres an overview of whats going on inside that possessive little mind.

1. Selfishness comes before sharing

The power to possess is a natural part of the childs growing awareness. During the second and third years, as the child goes from oneness to separateness, this little person works to establish an identity separate from mother. I do it myself! and mine! scream the headlines in the toddlers tabloid. In fact, mine is one of the earliest words to come out of a toddlers mouth.

The growing child develops attachments to things as well as persons. This ability to form strong attachments is important to being an emotionally healthy person. The one-year-old has difficulty sharing her mommy; the two-year-old has difficulty sharing her teddy bear. Some children get so attached to a toy that the raggedy old doll becomes part of the childs self. When asked to draw a picture of herself, four-year-old Hayden would always include her doll as if it were part of her body. Can you imagine convincing her to share this doll with a playmate? It was too important. She could not feel safe and secure if that doll was being handled by another child.

2. When to expect a child to share

True sharing implies empathy, the ability to get into anothers mind and see things from their viewpoint. Children are seldom capable of true empathy under the age of six. Prior to that time they share because you condition them to do so. Dont expect a child less than two or 2½ to easily accept sharing. Children under two are into parallel play playing alongside other children, but not with them. They care about themselves and their possessions and do not think about what the other child wants or feels. But, given guidance and generosity, the selfish two-year-old can become a generous three or four-year-old. As children begin to play with each other and cooperate in their play, they begin to see the value of sharing.

Attachment-parented kids may be more sensitive to others needs and thus more willing to share, or they may be more aware of their own need to preserve their sense of self by not sharing. Its easier to share with someone less powerful than you or less threatening, (i.e., someone younger,)a visitor rather than a sibling, a quiet child rather than a demanding one. Much depends on your childs temperament. Follow your childs cues in judging when he is ready to share.

Even at four or five years of age, expect selective sharing. A child may reserve a few precious possessions just for himself. The child is no more likely to share her treasured teddy or tattered blanket than you would share your wedding ring or the heirloom shawl your mother gave you. Respect and protect your childs right to his own possessions. Kids know kids. At four, Matthew sized up his friend Johnny, an impulsive, curious child who would have been a natural durability tester for a toy manufacturer. Johnny explored every moving part, pulled and twisted them; only the strongest toy could survive this child. Matthew recognized his friends destructive nature and hid his more valuable and breakable toys when he saw Johnny coming. We supported Matthews wisdom.

3. Dont force a child to share

Instead, create attitudes and an environment that encourage your child to want to share. There is power in possession. To you, theyre only toys. To a child, theyre a valuable, prized collection that has taken years to assemble. Respect the normal possessiveness of children while you encourage and model sharing. Then watch how your child operates in a group play setting youll learn a lot about your child and about what kind of guidance hell need. If your child is always the grabber, hell learn that other kids wont want to play with him. If hes always the victim, he needs to learn the power of saying no. In the preschool years your child naturally goes through a whats in it for me stage, which will progress into a more socially aware whats in it for us stage. Gradually with a little help from parents children learn that life runs more smoothly if they share.

4. Get connected

A child gives as he is given to. We have observed that children who received attachment parenting during the first two years are more likely to become sharing children in the years to come, for two reasons. Children who have been on the receiving end of generosity follow the model theyve been given and become generous persons themselves. Also, a child who feels right is more likely to share. An attachment-parented child is more likely to have a secure self-image. He needs fewer things to validate his self-worth. In taking a poll of attachment- parented children in our practice, we found they needed fewer attachment objects. They are more likely to reach for mothers hand than cling to a blanket.

5. Model generosity

Monkey see, monkey do. If big monkey shares, so will little monkey. When someone asks to borrow one of your toys, make this a teachable moment: Mommy is sharing her cookbook with her friend. Let your sharing shine. Share with your children: Want some of my popcorn? Come sit with us well make room for you. If you have several children, especially if they are close in age, there will be times when there isnt enough of you to go around. Two children cant have one hundred percent of one mommy or daddy. Do the best you can to divide your time fairly. No fair may be the single most frequently repeated complaint of childhood. Try to be an equal opportunity parent as much as possible, while teaching your children that other factors come into play in day-to-day life.

6. Play games

Play Share Daddy. Placing the two-year-old on one knee and the four-year-old on the other teaches both children to share their special person. Even a two-year-old can play Share Your Wealth. Give your two-year-old some flowers, crackers, blocks, or toys, and ask her to share them with everyone in the room: Give one to big brother. Give one to Daddy. You want to convey the message that sharing is a normal way of life and sharing spreads joy. Lauren found a piece of chocolate in my (Marthas) purse the other day. She happily ate it and then showed me a second piece shed found. I told her that piece was for Stephen and Matthew to share and asked her to go give it to them, thinking to myself shed just eat it on her way. I didnt bother to go with her to see the inevitable. Bill later told me how cute it was when she walked up and doled out the halves, one to Stephen and one to Matthew.

A good way to model principles to a young child is through play. Games hold a childs attention, allowing lessons to sink in, in the spirit of fun. Children are more likely to remember what they have learned through play than what theyve heard in your lectures. Consider the character traits that are fostered during a simple game: humor, fairness, honesty, generosity, concentration, flexibility, obedience to rules, sensitivity, and the all-American value of competitiveness. And, sorry to say, unhealthy traits such as selfishness, jealousy, lying, and cheating can also be experienced through play. Expect play time to reflect how life is to be lived, and tolerate only principled play.
7. When to step in

While we dont expect toddlers to be able to share, we use every opportunity we can to encourage taking turns. Teach your child how to communicate her needs to her friends. Say something like, When Catherine is all done with the car, then you can ride it. Ask her when she will be done or Hold out your hand and wait; shell give you the doll when shes ready. When a toy squabble begins, sometimes its wise not to rush in and interfere. Give children time and space to work it out among themselves. Stay on the sidelines and observe the struggle. If the group dynamics are going in the right direction and the children seem to be working the problem out among themselves, stay a bystander. If the situation is deteriorating, intervene. Self-directed learning with or without a little help from caregivers has the most lasting value.

8. Time-sharing

Using a timer can help you referee toy squabbles. Johnny and Jimmy are having trouble sharing the toy. You intervene by asking each one to choose a number and the one who chooses the closest number to the one you thought of gets the toy first. You then set the timer. Two minutes is about right for younger children. You can ask older ones to wait longer. When the timer goes off, the toy goes to the second child for the same amount of time (though he has probably forgotten that he wanted it). You may have to sell children on the plan with an animated, simple explanation. Walk them through a cycle, starting with the older one or the one more likely to cooperate. For example, Stephen has the toy for two minutes. The buzzer goes off. Extract the toy from Stephen with talking and encouragement and hand it to Lauren, reassuring Stephen it will be his turn again when the buzzer goes off. It may take several cycles before a child can hand over the toy on her own, smiling because she knows she will get it back. A family in our practice who uses the timer method told us that it worked so well that the older sibling runs to her mother saying, Mom, set the timer. Suzy wont share. External and internal timers help children learn valuable lessons for later life how to take turns and how to delay gratification.

If the time method doesnt work, time-out the toy. Put it on the shelf and explain that the toy stays there until they learn to share it. Children may sulk for a while as the toy sits unused, but sooner or later the realization hits that its better to share than to forfeit the toy completely. They will learn to compromise and cooperate so that everyone winds up winning.

9. Plan ahead

If your child has trouble sharing his toys and a playmate is coming over, ask the playmates parent to send toys along. Kids cant resist toys that are new to them. Soon your child will realize that he must share his own toys in order to get his hands on his playmates. Or, if you are bringing your sharing child to the home of a non-sharing child, bring toys along. Some children develop a sense of justice and fairness at a very young age. One of our children didnt want to return to a friends house because he didnt share. We made this a teachable moment by praising him: Arent you glad you like to share? I bet kids like to come to your house.

10. Protect your childs interests

If your child clings to his precious possessions, respect this attachment, while still teaching him to be generous. Its normal for a child to be selfish with some toys and generous with others. Guard the prized toy. Pick it up if the other child tries to snatch it. You be the scapegoat. Ease your child into sharing. Before play begins, help your child choose which toys he will share with playmates and which ones he wants to put away or reserve for himself. You may have to play referee: This is Susies special birthday toy. You may play with these other ones until shes ready to share. Respect ownership. The larger the family, the more necessary it is to arrive at a balance between respecting ownership and teaching sharing. Point out, Thats Collins toy but this one belongs to the whole family. And, of course, encourage trading. Children easily learn the concept of family toys, such as television, which everyone shares. The mother of one large family with four close-in-age boys had a policy of the family toy pool gifts were enjoyed by the new owner for one hour, then they joined the pool of toys. Special toys that needed individual care were set apart in the owners room.

11. Give your child opportunities to share

To encourage sharing, Janet gave four-year-old Benjamin a whole cookie with the request, Please give some of the cookie to Robin. He broke off a piece and gave it to her. It was good practice for Benjamin and, from his modeling, two-year-old Robin learned about sharing. Oftentimes, you can teach values to your younger children by using the older children as models. In this case, both the teacher and the student got a lesson in values, and Janet breathed a sigh of relief that Benjamin came through with the desired behavior.


Create Date : 27 ѹҤ 2556
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