Let me explain. It IS important for our children to be kind and respectful to others. To share with others. But…. expecting our children to just drop what they are doing, the second another child asks them to, isn’t what we should be teaching our children. When we put it that way, it’s a little unrealistic, don’t you think?
How many times are we guilt of this. Our child is playing with a toy or book. Another child, or even their sibling comes over and wants it. So what do we say, “share your toy with your sister.” Or, “share your book with Jimmy.” We think that we are teaching them to share by expecting them to immediately hand the toy over.
This causes two problems. One, it teaches our kids to share for the wrong reasons, because we told them to, not because they want to! And Two, it teaches them that sharing is miserable because they have to give up their things, before they are done playing with them.
That is not how things work in the real world. We don’t walk up to one another and demand what they have right then. No, we ask if we can use it when they are done. And we want to teach our children the same thing. To willingly hand over their toy or book when they are done, and let others have a turn.
So instead of forcing them to hand over their toys on the spot, we need to teach them to stand up for themselves, take turns, and be willing to share when they are done. We want our children to be able to say, “No, you can’t have it right now, but you can have it when I am done.” That is a healthy response.
How do we start to teach sharing differently?
First, we have to stop telling our kids to give up their things, right now! No more of that. Even to keep the peace.
Second, teach your child to stand up for themselves. When a child takes a toy from them, teach your child to tell them to stop. Vocabulary like…
“I am going to play with this until I am done and then you can have it.”
“I am not done, when I am finished you can have a turn.”
“Please don’t take my toy away, you can have it when I am done.”
“You need to wait your turn, right now it’s my turn”
Third, teach empathy. A willingness to share will come from our children when they can think about others and consider their feelings. Need some help teaching your children empathy. Click here for all the tips and tricks.
Forth, don’t force your child to share. Instead, understand that young children under 5 have a hard time understanding why they have to give up something of theirs. They struggle with empathy because they are so young. So instead of forcing, model empathy and sharing yourself, and let the natural consequences teach them. If they don’t share, kids wont want to play with them. If they steal other’s toys, kids wont want to play with them. Those are feelings they will understand and will help modify their behavior. Be sure you teach as the experiences happen, so your kids can put all the pieces together. In the mean time, be sure you are a good example. Share with them, and encourage other family members to model appropriate sharing behavior also.
It’s true, kids don’t have to share….immediately. Let’s teach them to be assertive and help them develop empathy for others so they WANT to share, instead of forcing them.
P.S. If you live in Northern Utah, mark your calendars for May 7th. The LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER Show is back and on May 7th we are going to “raise the roof” and celebrate Motherhood. The show is in its third year and has proven to be fantastic. Hope you will join us.
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