Who are we kidding? Sharing is difficult. Even adults can get possessive of things that are sentimental or add value to their lives. Have you ever gotten a delicious plate of food just to have someone in the family ask if they can have some? You might be met with a lot of resistance if you’re starving. Kids are no different, yet we know it’s important to teach them about sharing. Let’s take a closer look at how you can help your kiddo learn this important life skill. Maybe you’ll be a little more willing to give up a few fries too!
Sharing is Caring
Sharing is often associated with fairness. While it does teach fairness, let’s understand that sharing encompasses so much more. When we share something, we engage in an act that allows us to look beyond ourselves to consider another person’s needs and wants. On top of that awareness, your kiddo learns to compromise. Depending on your mindset, sharing can either feel disappointing or exciting. For kids, it’s valuable to highlight the positivity that sharing brings for themselves and others.
Encouraging the Art
We’re calling sharing an art form because it takes practice. Kids will not always know to share unless asked to do so. In fact, the act can feel jarring, unnecessary, and kind of like the world is ending. We have a few tips to keep in mind to make sharing a positive experience.
Understand the Circumstance
Realize that every situation is different. Perhaps your child has a teddy bear that was given to them as a baby. They love keeping it around. Something that has strong sentimental value for your child might be an item best left out of sharing scenarios. It would be like someone asking you to share your cell phone. At the risk of having it damaged by another, you might consider having them practice with something else. While most circumstances can encompass some level of compromise, it can be helpful to put yourself in their shoes to best gauge the situation.
Highlight the Positive in Sharing
Positive experiences make kids feel good. In fact, praise can make a child more likely to repeat a behavior. The objective here is to make sharing feel good as opposed to feeling like a great annoyance. When your child shares with someone, offer praise. Talk about how happy your child made them. “Look at their big smile” or “you helped your brother stop crying” can allow your kiddo to realize that their action had a positive effect on another person. It can make them feel good too!
Put them in situations where sharing might occur whether that means interacting at a playdate or at home with their siblings. If they struggle, practice one-on-one with an item that they aren’t quite as attached to but still interested in. Remind them that they’re helping another person feel good, and hopefully, they can enjoy sharing with that individual as well.
Many kids enjoy a good videogame and many are vastly popular with kids today. However, some games were not made for a multiplayer experience or maybe you have just one controller. In situations where turn-taking is required, we suggest setting timers for the kids to alternate to ease the transition. Give your kiddo a warning by at least five minutes before the timer goes off so that they can prepare to pass it on to another player. If this is met with resistance, maybe it’s time for everyone to get away from the screen and take a break. Setting limits again before the next gameplay can help everyone refocus on the value of sharing.
Be the Example
Kids thrive on your example. If your kiddo sees you share things in your life whether that means meals, time on the phone, or even something that was difficult for you to part with, your kiddo is more likely to follow that influence. If you can, try to share something every day. Maybe Dad can help you in pointing out the positive of sharing. Dad could say, “Did you see that, Wesley? Mom just shared her snacks with me. It makes me so happy.” Remember that we have so much to share with the world. The act is a beautiful thing.
Sometimes kiddos having issues with sharing can be a sign of an underlying condition. You can reach out to us with any concerns.