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Our Blog: January 17, 2014

How to Teach Sharing

Asking your young child to “share” is likely to trigger tears and tantrums – here’s why. But don’t give up – there are lots of ways to boost your child’s graciousness, patience, and empathy, which all add up to honest-to-goodness sharing over time. Here’s how:

Take Timed Turns Don’t tell your child to “wait just a minute” when a friend has a toy he wants. Instead, use a timer to give him a concrete way to see the passage of time while he waits for his turn. Watching the timer count down helps him build important mental muscle, too.  Set the timer for n

o more than 2-3 minutes per turn. Help him sing silly songs or play with something else while he waits. Then give everyone “High 5’s” for taking turns.

Respect Your Kiddo Create an easy-sharing environment by setting realistic expectations for playdates. Don’t shame her for feeling protective of her stuff. Help her put away “special” toys she doesn’t want to share before friends come over – this will help her feel more in control of what she does share. Then, prepare cooperative activities like kitchen, garden, and art activities so that everyone can be included. Praise the kids when they take turns and act kindly.

Practice, Practice, Practice Find opportunities in everyday life to practice sharing with your little one. Take turns holding the book when you read together, share nibbles of treats, and alternate who gets to pick the next song you’ll sing. Notice when she shares nicely, and brag about it to others in her presence.

Gratitude and Giving Give freely of yourself to those who need your help, and involve your child in the process.  Pitching in at school, church, or in your neighborhood builds the foundation for sharing, and ingrains generosity and caring as part of the family experience.

Stay Centered When the kids don’t share, it’s easy for us to get frazzled and upset. Instead, take a deep breath and be a good role model of patience and kindness. Sharing is an advanced task for our brains too, so the more relaxed and thoughtful we are as parents, the better role models we’ll be for our kids.

How do you boost sharing in your home? Please “share” with us!

About the Author

Dr. Heather Wittenberg

Dr. Wittenberg is a psychologist specializing in the development of babies, toddlers, preschoolers — and parents. She offers no-hype, practical parenting advice on her blog BabyShrink — rooted in science, and road tested in her own home as the mother of four young children. She has helped thousands of parents over the years and knows that the most common problems with young children — sleep, feeding, potty training and behavior — can be the most difficult ones to solve.