Sharing seems so simple, right? But any parent of a toddler knows that sharing is not something that comes naturally to our little ones.
We expect our children to politely share their toys, books or food with siblings and friends and can often feel embarrassed or annoyed when they refuse. But sharing is actually a developmental milestone that can take years to develop. It’s important to nurture this valuable life skill from early on and provide lots of encouragement and positive reinforcement.
Here are some helpful tips for teaching your child to share:
1. Start early
It’s never too early to start teaching your child to share, but by around 4 they should be getting a good grasp of the concept (although don’t expect them to properly master it until they are a little older).
2. Model positive behaviour
You cant expect your child to share if you don’t. Practice sharing and talk about what you are doing and why.
3. Play games
Play is fundamental to your child’s learning and can be a great way to teach little one’s life skills. Get imaginative and role play with them and incorporate sharing into it. Eg. have a tea party where there’s only one cake left and get everyone to share it.
4. Offer lots of praise
Remember sharing is a skill that takes a long time to master (we all know some adults who could probably use some help in that department…) so be patient with your child, praise them with lots of encouragement when they do well and offer suggestions of how they could do it better or differently next time. Offering specific praise, eg. ‘I felt so happy when you shared that with me’ – as opposed to just generic statements such as ‘good job sharing’.
5. Set sharing time limits
Remember that in their little world they think their favourite toy is being taken away forever when you are asking them to share. So if they are struggling with the concept, setting timers can be a great way to help them understand that it doesn’t mean they are giving their toy away forever and they get it back after a set time.
Be patient with your little one as they figure this valuable life skill out, it may take some longer than others but if you are practising what you preach and actively modelling the behaviour in your home it will eventually become second nature to them too.