Wanting something is very natural. Sharing something is acquired, yet it’s something which is backed by willingness. How do you teach human beings, who are wired to want and take, to give & share? Teaching children to share is always tricky, you can’t impose yet you want them to learn to share. So here are some tips to help you:
- Taking Turns: Turn-taking is a fun way to teach sharing and make play more interactive. For eg. take turns to hug the bear / or play with a toy. ‘Now it’s your turn, and pass it on to your child and then ask them to share by saying, ‘now it’s my turn’. Such turn-taking will assure them that they can still have what they want even when they share.
- Praise when they share/Positive reinforcement: Praise your children when they share, praise them when they take turns, tell them that what they’re doing is good and that it will make them better people who’ll be liked by friends.
- Don’t punish/reprimand when they don’t share: So as mentioned before, teaching to share is tricky. Children don’t want to be forced, and so a bit of encouragement is what will work. First, begin with pointing out how much fun they’re having with the toy, and then emphasise how hard it is for them to let it go. Then you practice turn-taking. If they still refuse to take turns, you can just say, ‘it’s ok, looks like you’re not ready to share, let us know when you are, we’ll wait for you’. This way you can encourage them to at least start thinking in that direction.
- Avoid labelling possessions: Children are too young to understand ownership, and the responsibility it comes with. Labelling possessions will give them the idea that the object belongs to them and only them. Especially toys, make them more communal, get your children to realise that playing with someone is always more fun than playing alone. And one needs to share to play along with another.
- Be a role model: When children see their parents sharing with each other or with friends/relatives their more likely to warm up to the idea of sharing. Also, share with your children. For eg, you can share clothes or blankets or even better food! Children are possessive about their favourite snack/chocolate and if you can manage to change that you’re a winner!