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Sharing doesn’t usually happen naturally, at least at the beginning. Until our kids are around ages 4 or 5, they are in an egocentric stage of development—they only see their own point of view. Your son can’t possibly understand that his sister wants the toy because he knows that he wants it and he thinks that everyone wants him to have the toy as well. At this developmental stage, it is unlikely that any child is going to suddenly think to himself, ‘Maybe Fred would like this truck—Fred, old boy, come on over and try it!’
That means we have to take time to teach sharing:
1. Play turn-taking games: Have everyone roll a ball to each other and talk about the turns. ‘It’s Sally’s turn with the ball. Sally, please roll it to John. Now it’s John’s turn. John, please roll it to mommy. Now it’s mommy’s turn. Mommy will roll it back to Sally—look Sally, it’s your turn again.’
This teaches kids that turns come around again and again. This is important because a child will learn that when she lets someone else have a turn, it will soon be her turn again.
Use ‘turn-taking language’ when pushing kids on the swing or passing food at dinner—wherever you can.
2. Practice sharing. Pick up four cookies at the bakery to ‘share’ with the four members of your family. Have your child pass the food out to each person (herself included). She will learn that sharing means that everyone gets something and that it feels good to share. You can eventually buy only two items and have her split them in half—you get the idea.
3. When it comes time for real sharing—do your best to warn kids ahead of time, then have a child ask, ‘May I have a turn when you’re done please?’ Decide what ‘done’ looks like (three more pushes on the swing), count it down for the children and then make the exchange happen. Support any sad feelings (it’s ok to feel sad) and if you possibly can, have the turns come around again.
Make this March Break the week you take a step back from your busy schedule and spend some quality time with your family. Plan a few activities but keep it simple and relaxed and you’ll be sure to have a great time together.
Use their week off to find that work/family balance. Take some time off work, if possible, and go out of town. If travel isn’t in the forecast, act like tourists in your own city. Visit the landmarks, go to some local events and exhibitions, and let the kids help plan the activities they want to do. Having them involved in the process will help the excitement grow leading up to the outings.
If you’re looking for a creative outlet, let your kids redesign old pieces of clothing. Give them fabric paint, beads and other embellishments to decorate pieces. Or visit a pottery shop where you can all paint your own ceramics, customizing them however you want. If a sibling or friend’s birthday is coming up, suggest making something as a gift, but any creation of theirs will be a great keepsake.
Another way to spend quality time together is to stage your own blackout. Unplug your electronics and leave technology behind for a night. Use flashlights and candles, play board games, tell stories and snack on homemade treats you whipped up together earlier that day.
Cooking with your kids is another great activity. Whether they’re helping you bake a batch of cookies, make dinner or plan a meal, they’ll learn how to work in a team, develop their fine motor skills and become more independent in the kitchen. For an added learning opportunity, ask them to pick a country and then make a food that is specific to that culture. Find some music associated with the region to listen to and learn some interesting facts about the area to discuss when you sit down to eat the meal you’ve prepared together.
A week may seem like a long time, but it will pass before you know it. Make sure to spend that time together, doing things that you normally wouldn’t have time for.