They say sharing is caring, but this phrase isn’t going to ring true for any preschooler (or toddler). Young kids are notorious for not wanting to share, whether they care about the item or not or whether they were even using it or not. It’s such a battle as a parent to get your child to understand the concept and realize nobody is taking their stuff away, they just want to try it out.
Want to know how to teach your preschooler to share (don’t we all?)? About.com has some ideas on the subject.
- Set a good example. If you want your preschooler to learn to share, then you must share with her. If you are snacking on apple slices, offer her one. Does she love to color with your makers? Let her draw a picture with them. Put sharing into action by modeling good behavior. Share things with your spouse or partner and draw attention to the action. “Thanks Daddy for sharing your popcorn with me. I love it when we can share a snack together.”
- Remember that your preschoolers things and toys are his world. Respect them. Just because he’s small and didn’t purchase the items in question, they are still his. If you need to borrow something, be sure to ask and say thank you when you are finished. Make sure siblings follow suit. Most importantly, make sure the item in question is in good condition when you return it.
- Make sure your preschooler knows what sharing is and that when you share a toy with someone, they don’t get to keep it forever. If she doesn’t want to share her doll, set a timer and explain when the timer goes off, it’s time to let the other child have a turn. When she sees that she will get her doll back, she may be more likely to give it up in the future.
- Find out why your preschooler doesn’t want to share a particular item. Was it a special gift from someone? Is it brand new? Before you discipline your child for not cooperating, find out why she’s behaving this way.
- Sometimes you can hit a stumbling block when another child won’t share with your little one, but it’s still a great opportunity for teaching. Have your child put himself in his friend’s shoes to figure out why his friend doesn’t want to share. Say something like, “I think that toy is really special to your friend. Why don’t you find something else to play with?”
- Show her that sharing is a fun thing. Do activities and games that are great for two or more — work on a puzzle, play a board game or bake cookies together. When the goal is met — the puzzle is finished or the cookies are ready to eat — talk about how great it was to share that activity with her.
- Recognize when it is OK not to share. Sometimes there are items that your preschooler just isn’t ready to give up. And that’s fine. If you force him to share something he’s not ready to give up, it could backfire, making him resentful instead of generous. Before a playdate begins, go through the house and have your little one pick out items he’d rather not have someone else play with. Put them in a special place. Then go through and pick out things that are great for sharing — art supplies, puzzles, board games. This will set a good tone.
- Use positive reinforcement. Give her things to share with friends on a playdate or at school like stickers, a snack for the
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