“That’s mine!” yelled my two and half-year-old, as he grabbed his train back from his one-year-old sister, as she bawled in return. This is the sight that welcomed me as I stepped out of the restroom, post leaving the two kids alone for exactly 40 seconds! Sigh, I wondered, won’t these two ever learn to share? Taking matters into my hands, I surfed through the internet, raided the library for books on child psychology and spoke to the mommy gurus I know, and put together this list on teaching children to share.
1. Don't force them to share
Children, especially toddlers, are extremely possessive. To you and me, it might be just a car or a doll that we are asking them to part with, but to them, it is a prized possession. It is alright for them to have a few things that they do not want to share, but teach them to part with the other stuff. Help them to understand that unless they learn to share politely, they’ll either never have friends or they will get pushed over.
2. Creative a conducive environment
Highlight the sharing that happens at home, so that they subconsciously become aware of it. Show them how you make portions for everyone, as you serve them dinner. Split your favourite chocolate with them, or let them use something that belongs to you for a bit. Give them opportunities to share among themselves, to encourage the habit sharing.
3. Learning by example
A great deal of what children learn comes from observing those around them. The next time you loan your sister or best friend something, make a show it for the kids. When they see that they are not the only ones who are expected to share, they will be more open to the idea.
4. Appreciate when they share
A pat on the back always helps to further the cause. Every time the kids share, show them that it has caught your attention and appreciate them for the same. Let them know how happy it makes you feel that they are being considerate and also point out how happy the other child is too.
5. Give to charity
Charity is the best way to teach your child sharing. Involve him in baking, preparing goodies and distributing them among the less fortunate. You could even ask him to put aside the clothes and toys that he has outgrown, and take him along when you donate them to an orphanage close to home.
A few weeks on, I stepped out of the restroom, wondering why the kids were so quiet (normally my antennas go up when they are quiet, as that’s when most of the mischief happens), and surprise of surprises…. Both of them were sharing their toys and playing together. Wow!! Every mother’s dream come true. Then list must be working. I hope it works for you too.