Can You Really Teach Kids to Share?
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 kids to share…
Tips to Teach Kids to Share:
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, basically wherever you can.
2. Practice sharing: Pick up four cookies at the bakery to ‘share’ with the 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 fewer items and have her split them in half — you get the idea.
3. Prep for sharing: 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.