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10 Ways to Encourage Your Child to Share

Two young boys share a toy train set.Sharing is a vital part of relating to other human beings. By cultivating openness in our interactions with others, we create harmony and support within communities large and small. However, young children often have a hard time learning to share. As with any new skill, practice builds confidence, and even enjoyment. The following are tried-and-true tips for encouraging your child to share.

1. Be realistic: Until the age of six, children have difficulty with empathy. Before 2 ½, youngsters prefer parallel play and aren’t going to naturally like sharing. Be realistic about your child’s age and don’t expect too much, too soon.

2. Don’t force sharing: Respect your child’s natural inclination for possessiveness. Take note of important tendencies like grabbing or being the victim. Children will need guidance tailored to their individual needs.

3. Connect: When children trust their parents and caretakers, they will reach for a parent’s hand over clinging to a stuffed animal or blanket.

4. Become a model of generosity: Children unconsciously model the behavior of their caretakers, so make an effort to be generous with your child. Offer them your popcorn or invite them to share the couch with you.

5. Make sharing a game: Give your child a few cookies and ask the child to give one to everyone in the room. Play is a fantastic way to model important principles of sharing and community.

6. Know when to step in: You might have a tough time convincing a child to share, but you can take the opportunity to encourage waiting their turn. If a quarrel arises, wait to see if the children can peacefully work it out.

7. Problem solving: Sharing and solving problems go hand in hand. Walk children through the process of listening to each other’s ideas until they reach a mutually acceptable plan to share the toy.

8. Work with other parents: If your child isn’t into sharing, call a friend’s parents and ask the playmate to bring toys. Your child won’t be able to resist new toys and will quickly learn to share her toys in order to play with her friend’s toys.

9. Respect attachment: It’s completely natural for a child to want to have a few personal items. Respect this attachment and help them choose what toys to share with friends and which to put away before play.

10. Create sharing opportunities: Give older siblings a piece of candy and ask them to share it. A younger child can learn the benefit of sharing from an older child’s model.

With the proper reinforcement, children can learn to share and empathize with other youngsters. Remain cognizant of their natural habits and correct behaviors when necessary. By remaining in tune with your child’s needs and wants while encouraging them to interact generously with other children, you pave the way for positive sharing behaviors that stick.

The KIDSPACE Child Enrichment Center in Vancouver, Washington, provides childcare for preschoolers and school-age children. Contact us if you’d like more information about how our nurturing environment helps children learn to share. Call (360) 944-9300.

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