Sharing is hard sometimes. If you’re little, then it can be really hard. You have that favorite toy (okay, LOTS of favorite toys), and a sibling or a friend wants to play with it. Or take it. Cue the tears. By the time my second kiddo came along, I had picked up a few helpful tips from friends and family for teaching your kids to share. Here they are!
Acknowledge their discomfort
Have you heard the saying, “Little kids, little problems…big kids, big problems?”
I think it’s important to listen to your child…and have them know that you care about their feelings (even if they are being unreasonable). I may not always agree with them, but I want my kids to know that I care.
I’ll say something like, “Mama understands that this is your favorite toy, huh? And you love it, right? I know that you want to play with it. (Wait for them to answer).
“But, you decided to bring it to our playdate, which means that we need to share it with our friends. Can you be a good friend and let _____ have a turn? Maybe you can take [insert any other toy within reach and hand it to them] and play together.”
No, my kids do not usually hand over the toy in question on the first pass. But I feel like I’ve at least acknowledged their feelings.
If there is a toy in sharing “question,” I many times default to the counting method. I ask the child who wants a turn with the toy to count to 10 (or 20 or 30…depending on their age and counting ability) – once the counting is over, the other child must hand over the toy for another 10-20-30 counting sequence. This teaches or reinforces counting, and also gives them something to do while they are waiting their turn. Most of the time, this works well.
Verbal praise every single time your child shares…especially when it is unsolicited. By consistently praising your kiddie, you are teaching them that sharing is a GOOD thing. Plus, I’m a big believer in positive praise.
Teaching my children to be kind is an absolute priority in our home. And to be compassionate – empathetic – loving – humble. To be thankful for what we have. My husband and I work with our kids every day on this (and it is hard). Hopefully, these values and skills will resonate and apply to sharing with others!
Lead by example
My kids (usually) want to be like mama and daddy. So, we make a big show of sharing. Yes, it’s a little obnoxious at times…but we say things like, “Thank you, honey, for sharing the last bite of your cookie with me!” Or, “Thank you sweetie, for sharing the remote with mommy! Look at how nice daddy is being!”
It sounds (and looks) silly, but our kids are watching us. So why not use this to our advantage?
And when all else fails…
First, I put the toy in question in a “time out.” The rule in my house is, if you can’t share (or at least work out a resolution), then the toy goes into “time out.” A place up high that the kids can easily see. If that results in tantrums, then the offending kiddo goes into time out, too.
If we are out somewhere, and my kids are refusing to share or be kind (after prompting and a few tries), then we say goodbye and leave.
What do you do to help your kids share? Any tips to add? Please comment below!