Published June 19, 2012 by
You know how hard it is to share when there is only one warm, gooey brownie left? Or when you’ve worked and worked to buy your great new car and someone wants to take it for a spin? We may overcome – or hide the last brownie – because we know sharing is an important aspect of being part of a family or society.
We have the ability to see beyond ourselves and recognize when it is appropriate to share our belongings, our resources, or our time. How can we teach our children to do the same? How do we teach children to share?
The most important thing to remember is that sharing is developmental, like walking, talking, and climbing up on kitchen cabinets and dumping out all the pots and pans. If your child does not share, it doesn’t mean that he is spoiled, mean, or bratty. It means that he’s 1, 2, 3… children do not develop reasoning skills until they are about 4. So, when another kid takes his first teddy bear, he doesn’t know if he will ever get it back again or what will happen to the toy if it is not in his possession – even if it is in the same room with him.
Because of the self-centeredness of children at this age, toys are like an extension of him. When someone takes the toy, or another child is allowed to play with it, it can feel like he is giving away an important part of himself, even if the toy is his least favorite or has been untouched in a closet for a month.
Sharing is just like walking in another way; children crawl and take wobbly steps, with support, before they are ready to take off on their own. You cannot force children to develop the ability to share, but you can certainly encourage and guide them.
Expose your child to sharing, and praise him for any and all efforts. He will get it; it is just a long process as he develops the right tools. You can help by supporting and praising him.