Is your child possessive about his/her toy or bedsheet? Does he/she throw a tantrum when a friend or sibling plays with his/her toy? Research says that children learn to share at the age of 3, but may take time to adopt the concept. There are ways in which you can encourage the concept of sharing in your little one.
Don’t Use Negative Reinforcement: Understand that your child is being introduced to the sense of ownership and give him/her time to mature and grow out of it. Shouting at children or punishing them and forcing them to share could actually backfire. They will associate shouting with sharing and will be reluctant to adopt the idea. Give your child some leeway and, maybe, acknowledge the child’s feelings by keeping aside his/her favourite possessions just for him/her. There will come a time when the child realises the fun of sharing the toy with a close friend.
Make Sharing Fun: Introduce games that involve sharing like finishing a jigsaw puzzle together or making something together out of clay/Playdoh. Such sessions will help them realise the fun of sharing.
Handle Crisis Situations Gently: If you find a squabble, for a toy, between your child & your child’s friend going out of hand step in and try to calm the situation by talking it out. For eg, if the friend is holding something back maybe you can put into words what he/she is feeling and communicate that to your child, for eg, ‘I think your friend likes the toy very much and doesn’t want anyone else to play with it, maybe we should let him/her play for some time and find you something else to play with? . Similarly, try to verbalise your child’s feelings and talk to him/her, ‘you look disappointed, are you? I understand you are angry? Do you think you can wait for a while to play with your toy?’ Such interactions will make your child realise that you understand how he/she feels.
Set An Example: Offer to share your things with your child, be it food or even your tee-shirt for fun. This will encourage your child to share and will also show him/her the joy in sharing.