Stop! That’s mine-give it back! Are two well-known phrases to both parents and early childhood educators. We are all familiar with the grabbing and shouting of a toy that wants to be played with. During preschool, making an effort to teach sharing to children becomes significantly more important. At this age, we largely teach sharing by impressing kids with its value. As parents, we hope that to our children, sharing is an act of kindness that brings us together. Even so, sharing does not always come naturally to young children. The concept of sharing your belongings can be daunting and scary. Check out these three amazing tips for teaching your child to share:
1. Illustrate the Fun of Sharing:
In order to teach sharing to our kids effectively, we have to show them how fun it can be! The goal is to highlight the act of sharing in a positive light. During play, try to incorporate games that revolve around teamwork. For example, children may team up and work together to complete a puzzle. This is a wonderful opportunity for children to work together, build off each other, and even practice turn-taking. Interactive games like Connect Four and Hide and Seek are awesome tools for teaching your child to share. Children practice taking turns, listening to directions, and working collaboratively.
At home, parents can illustrate fun and teach sharing with cooking! For example, parent and child can take turns peeling a banana, beating an egg, and mashing up an avocado. Cooking at home is a terrific opportunity to share food and snacks with your child. For example, “Wow, can I have a bite of your sandwich?” or “Would you like some of my popcorn? Let’s share!” These simple phrases illustrate how fun sharing can be!
2. Use Explicit Language to Teach Sharing:
Explicit and intentional language is often overlooked when it trying to teach sharing. It is natural for us as parents to jump in and solve a problem before a situation escalates. Next time your child is having a tough time sharing, try using explicit language. For example:
- It seems like Sara wants to play with the blocks, we can try sharing the blocks so both of you can play.
- It looks like Sara wants to play with the blocks, why don’t you play together!
- I see that you are playing with the blocks right now. Is there a reason you don’t want to share?
- It seems like you’re having a lot of fun with the kitchen set. Is there a reason you don’t want to play with the other toys?
By using explicit language, you are helping your child put their feelings into words! At this age, many children don’t have the vocabulary to truly express how they are feeling. With explicit language, parents can assess the situation and encourage sharing as a viable option.
3. To Teach Sharing, You’ll Need to Model It
We as parents understand the importance of modeling healthy behaviors. If we hope to teach sharing to our kids we must lead by example. At home, parents can model sharing, generosity, and compromise. For example, sharing ice cream with a partner, compromising what to watch on TV, and sharing snacks. With your child, you can model sharing during daily activities. For example, asking your child to share the blanket, play with one of their toys, or use their art materials.
During art activities, you can prompt your child by asking, “Can I use some of your watercolor? Thank you so much for sharing with me. That makes me feel so happy! Would you like to use my brush for a little bit?” By modeling how we share, our children will be eager to share too! Another fantastic way to model sharing is by noticing others sharing. For example, pointing out when other adults share, moments where your child shares independently, and stating how sharing makes you feel! This may look like, “Wow Natalia! I love the way you shared your books with Michael. That was very generous of you.” Modeling and practicing what you preach is a fantastic way to encourage sharing among young children!
Bonus Tip: Play the Sesame Street “Sharing Song!”
Overall, sharing is an important life skill that follows us all throughout adulthood. We as adults never truly stop sharing, whether it be clothing, food, or intimate parts of our lives! In other words, when we teach sharing to children, we’re giving them a life-long skill. Therefore, it is imperative that we teach sharing to our children at an early age. By illustrating the fun of sharing, using explicit language, and modeling sharing, it will eventually become second nature. Which tip are you excited to try out next?