Recently I received a request to address sharing. Thank you for posing the question. I really love interaction with my readers and want to figure out what you want to know or are working on with your own kids. I was surprised I hadn’t addressed sharing yet. It’s something we parents all need to deal with in training our kids.
* You want to try and reach your child’s heart. Therefore, I always like to pose the question, “How would you feel if someone wasn’t willing to share with you?”
* I also have the phrase, “People are more important than things.”
* Sharing can be really hard for kids. You want to understand some of the situation. Kids have a strong sense of ownership. They feel like parting with something is like losing a part of them. This is a developmental stage, and they will get develop past it. This is not an excuse. We still need to take the time to teach them to do the right thing. It will take your own modeling, patience, teaching, consistency and follow throw to help them become a sharing person.
* I know when your child doesn’t share, it feels embarrassing. However, it’s something that all parents have dealt with, so as long as you are involved and addressing it, don’t let other people phase you.
* I like to prepare my kids for situations. I ask a lot of questions. I say, “We are going to Angela’s house. What is our behavior going to be like?” They have heard my teaching about how we behave and the kind of words we use so much, that they no longer need me to teach them. They can tell me. Even though I have taught it a lot, I still take time to review so it’s fresh in their brains before we enter a situation. This is the time to talk about sharing.
* A lot of my training comes before the moment. In a non-threatening environment pretend with your child. “I am going to be Johnny, and he has a toy you want. Let’s see how we can best handle the situation.” I like to model a lot through pretend and role play. It is how kids learn. You could also make up or think of a game that involves sharing. You can also become a thespian and act out two different kids – a sharing one and a non-sharing one. Ask them which kids seems like someone they’d rather be around.
* Do some preparation around your own house when having kids over. If there’s something special they don’t want played with, allow them the opportunity to hide it away so that no one plays with it.
* Teach them strategies for taking turns. Teach them rock, paper, scissors or guess my number or flip a coin so they have some techniques to try and figure out something fair. Set timers saying their friend can play with something for 5 minutes and then they can. Some kids have a strong sense of justice, so if they feel like they are getting a fair shake, they are less likely to resist. I always try to let the friend go first to emphasize the importance of serving others.
* Give them a choice with clear consequences. “You may stay here to play until nap time, but if you are not willing to share, we will need to head home early. It is your choice.” Make sure you are willing to follow through on the choices you give.
* Point out when you see others sharing and make sure to model it yourself. If I have something and one of my kids wants it I often say, “Sure. I love sharing with you.”
* You can also try to find books on sharing. Here’s a link to some.
* With my own kids and their interaction with each other, there are times when I try and reach their heart and then other times I find it necessary to enforce sharing. Other times, I find I don’t enforce it. I have the younger kids respect the older kids. I’ll say, “Kenzie just made the choice that she doesn’t want you to play with that right now. You need to respect that.” It actually just happened today. Once I said that, Kenzie’s heart changed, and she was willing to share immediately. She didn’t like the feeling that the choice wasn’t hers, and once that restriction was lifted, her heart changed. I enforce it more when we are dealing with friends.
* Make sure you compliment like crazy as you see them being generous and sharing…I mean LIKE CRAZY.
There will be an intense time of being involved and training, and then it gets easier. We have had to train with each of our children. I can’t tell you how happy it made me when Abby walked out of her classroom the first day of school. Her teacher always hands out a gummy bear as they are leaving. The first thing Abby did was bite that thing in half and give it to her sister without prompting. You will see fruits as you remain diligent. You are in the middle of intense training with toddlers and preschoolers. Keep at it.