Sharing is one of the most important skills a child can learn. It helps them develop relationships with others, teaches them empathy and cooperation, and prepares them for social situations. But sometimes getting your child to share can be difficult. Here are some tips on how to make it easier!
Why It’s Important for Your Child to Share
Sharing is important because it’s the first step towards learning how to get along with others. It teaches a child empathy and cooperation skills while laying a foundation for future social relationships. These are some of the most important aspects of a child’s development, so it’s important to make sure sharing is a regular part of your daily routine.
Should You Force Kids to Share?
Forcing children to share can be a difficult task. It can be tempting to just take the toy away from them, but this usually doesn’t solve the problem. In fact, it might just make them more stubborn and resistant to sharing in the future.
Children want to keep what they have, and forcing them to give away what they feel is theirs can actually damage their feelings of security and comfort.
However, it’s important to make them understand that sharing is a part of life and that it’s necessary for smooth social interaction. It will take some time for your child to learn this lesson on their own though!
What to Do When Your Child Refuses to Share
When your child won’t share toys, try redirecting them by asking them to play with something else instead. If they still don’t cooperate, then it’s important to teach them that “playing nice” is part of being a friend or member of the family. You can do this by asking them to share or give up a toy for the day.
Another good way to get your kids to share is by putting things they like in front of them and saying they can’t play with it unless they let their friend use it too.
This will encourage them to share and stop them from getting upset.
What to Do When Your Child Takes Too Much
If your child is taking more than their fair share, then you’ll need to step in and show them how it’s done. Set an example by sharing as much as they do or giving up something if they’re not willing to let go of it. This will show them how to behave in social situations and help teach them valuable lessons about sharing, kindness, and cooperation.
Tips for Encouraging Sharing in Everyday Life
- Talk about sharing before playdates and/or daycare or childcare. Give them reminders, such as: “When Julia comes to visit, you will need to share some of your toys. Let’s ask her which ones she wants to play with.”
- Talk about why sharing is good for your child and other kids. Remind them that when they share their toys, everyone gets to have fun together.
- Point out good sharing in others when you see it, whether in your child or others.
- When you see your child sharing or taking turns, offer up plenty of praise. Positive feedback will reinforce good behaviors and encourage them to do the same things again. Say something like, “I saw how you let Henry play with your toy robot. That was such good sharing!”
- Play games with your child that involve sharing and taking turns. Walk them through it as you go, verbalizing how you take turns. “Okay, it’s your turn to play with the doll, and it’s my turn to play with the puppet theater. I’ll put on a show for you, then you can put on a show for me.”
Sharing at Different Ages
Toddlers are learning how to become more independent, so they’ll be the most resistant to sharing.
Preschoolers will start experimenting with sharing at daycare or preschool and may need reminders before playdates. They’ll also begin to understand that it’s nice for others when you share your toys.
Older children can easily grasp the concept of sharing and should be able to play nicely with others. They may still need reminders, but they’ll probably understand this concept a little better than younger children.
If your child is under three, they aren’t going to understand sharing very well. Part of this is that they have no concept of time, so the idea of waiting their turn is overwhelming. Asking them to wait five minutes is as hard as asking them to wait five hours.
Another issue is that toddlers are only just learning how to manage their emotions. Not getting their way is as likely to trigger a tantrum as not.
Expecting a toddler to share is unrealistic. At this age, you will need to guide their behavior through consistent reminders, modeling behavior, and positive reinforcement. Make sure you understand that this is a step in their social development and can be a difficult one to master.
Be consistent with the message of sharing. Use your words, action, and body language all together to assist your child. Say things like, “You need to share” while taking toys away from them or offering them up for others to use.
Be mindful of your child’s reaction to sharing, and don’t push them too hard. If they are upset at the idea of sharing, back off for a little while or ask if they want to do something else instead of continuing to play.
Once your child starts attending daycare or preschool, you’ll notice them starting to play with other children and show more interest in sharing. This is a critical time for them, as they will be learning how to share with others regularly.
Give your child constant reminders when it comes to sharing. Don’t assume that because they are in preschool or daycare that their behavior has changed on its own. Remind them often to be kind and share.
Be sure to teach your young child that it’s okay for them to say no if they aren’t comfortable with sharing their toys or time with you. Sharing is a positive behavior, but there are some instances where they will need to learn how to keep certain things just for themselves.
Once your child is over the age of four, they are more likely to understand the concept of sharing. Some aspects of it will be easier for them than others, but you’ll notice that general understanding.
Setting limits when it comes to sharing can help your children learn how to manage their emotions and play nicely with others. They will still have times where they don’t want to share, but they’ll have a better understanding of boundaries.
If your child has trouble sharing, try asking them if they can use one of their toys for a few minutes so the other child can play with it too. This is an excellent tool for younger children who are learning how to talk and reason with you.
Encourage your child to take turns and ask them for ideas on how to share. Younger children will benefit from this style of learning while older ones will be able to handle it on their own.
What About Your Child?
If you’re not sure how well your child is doing with the idea of sharing, there are some activities that can help you determine their progress.
Give them prompts or get them to act out scenarios that show sharing. For example, ask your child what they would do if another child took their toy without asking or gave it back too late so your child missed out on playing with it.
Don’t be afraid of having difficult conversations about sharing and why it’s important. The more you talk about it, the more your child will understand these values.
When Not to Share
Sometimes sharing is not something that your child can or should do. Here are some examples of when they shouldn’t have to share:
Nobody needs to share toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, or other personal items.
Toys or items that are special to your child should not be shared. They might want them back later, and this sets a precedent for sharing everything in the future even if it’s personal.
If your child is experiencing a difficult moment or doesn’t want to share, they are under no obligation to do so. They should be able to use their words and express themselves if sharing isn’t working for them at that time.
Signs Your Child is Learning to Share
Positive reinforcement goes a long way when it comes to your child and sharing. Here are some signs that show they are enjoying this process:
Showing empathy – Your child will notice that someone needs help or is upset when they don’t have something. They may voluntarily give up their toy to make the other person feel better, which is a great sign of empathy in young children.
Taking turns – This is another sign of empathy and understanding. Younger children may not know how to make sure everyone gets a turn, but they do understand the concept and will work on it as they get older.
Sharing with siblings – If you have multiple children in your home, then you’ll see them start to share more often as they grow. They will willingly let their younger siblings play with the toy they are currently using or help them in some way.
If your child is having trouble sharing, don’t worry. There are many ways to teach this behavior and plenty of activities you can use to reinforce that message for years to come. With patience and trial-and-error, you can show your child the benefits of being a good sharer.
Talking About Why Sharing is Important
As your child gets older they will begin to understand the importance of sharing, but it’s always a good idea to reinforce the lesson in their younger years as well. Talk about why it’s important before and after playdates and remind them that sharing means everyone gets to join in the fun.
Share with your child how good it makes you feel when they share their toys and other things. Talk about how sharing is one of the first ways that kids learn to be kind, compassionate, and generous.
If someone else doesn’t want to share, remind your child that it’s okay not to share some things. This is a good lesson for them to learn, and it can be applied to situations outside of sharing toys (such as food, friends’ belongings, etc.)
Don’t force your child. It might make them more resistant and less likely to share in the future. If they don’t want someone else using their things or touching their toy, that’s okay- just let them know that they get to decide.
Conversations About Sharing with Others
Remind your child before a playdate how nice it is to share, in case they need reminding. Ask if there are any toys in particular they want to share or keep out of the mix in case other kids will be playing with them.
If your child has a favorite toy they like to play with, talk about how it’s okay to bring toys out of the mix sometimes if someone is using something special. Remind your child that they can put their toys away when other friends come over and that it’s important for them to control these things themselves.
When your child is sharing toys with others, make sure to praise them and give them lots of positive feedback. Let them know it’s nice to be considerate and that you’re proud of their kind behavior.
If your child refuses to share, take a break. If they keep refusing, don’t force the issue and move on to another activity instead. If you’ve tried to involve them and they’re still refusing, find something else to do. That means no forcing the issue and no scolding.
Every child is different and will learn how to share at different paces. Don’t worry if your child doesn’t want to share everything right away- this is normal. Just make sure they understand the importance of sharing and that they’ll get more attention from friends when they’re considerate.
These are important skills your kids need to learn before they get older! Make sure you put these tips into practice so you can help your child develop healthy relationships with others.