Being able to share with others is a vital skill for our children to learn, as it helps them make and keep friendships and to take others’ feelings into account when making decisions – skills which will contribute to the happiness of our children in the long run.
Having said this, teaching your child to share can be easier said than done, since they’re at an age where they find it difficult to prioritize others’ needs.
With this in mind, here are the 3 best things you can do to encourage your child to share with others.
Show your child examples of sharing.
Often, children learn through imitation and by copying the behaviour of role models. So, making sure your child is exposed to sharing behaviours often. Be sure that these sharing behaviours are pointed out and praised – it is crucial to developing their ability to share with others.
These examples can include watching you exhibit sharing behaviours – maybe with your spouse, your friends, or your family. Take time to stop and explain the benefits that sharing had for everyone involved. For example, “I shared my piece of cake with your Daddy so that we both got to enjoy it. If I didn’t share my cake, he would be hungry and less happy, so sharing my piece was the best choice for both of us, as by sharing we could both enjoy the cake and nobody felt left out.”
Oftentimes, our children respond even more to role models their own age – whether in real life, especially when their peers’ sharing behaviour is praised, or in the media they consume.
Purchasing media specifically targeted at teaching our children to share can be incredibly effective, as the content has been created for the purpose of teaching your child this vital life skill.
In my book ‘Sharing is Caring’ I try to teach the reader, value of sharing and how sharing can benefit both the person they’re sharing with and themselves. The most important message that I try to get across is that life is way more fun when you share than when you keep something to yourselves.
Share with your child.
A great way to teach your child the benefits of sharing is to have them be a supporter of sharing behaviour. For example, if you make a point out of sharing with your child and explain to them that you’re sharing, rather than just giving them what they want. Later, after you have shared something with them, you can ask them to share something with you and hopefully they will make the association and sharing will be instilled in your children as a natural behaviour.
Give them praise when they share successfully.
Children love to be praised – particularly from authority figures such as their parents and teachers.
By praising them when they exhibit good behaviour – in this case, sharing with others – they will be more inclined to repeat the behaviour in order to receive that praise again.
While over time your children will learn to share based on the benefits it provides to them socially – and to the person they’re sharing with – at a young age it can be difficult to conceptualize these benefits. So, teaching them good habits through praise is a great way to get them used to sharing, before they can really begin to understand the plus points for themselves.
Reading books about sharing to your children:
If you want to teach your child to share successfully, expose them to books that discuss the beauty behind the art of sharing. In my book ‘Sharing is Caring’ I attempt to get this message across by delving deeply into the practice of sharing in a kindergarten setting. Hopefully It will show your child the countless benefits of sharing with others in a gentle and non-judgemental fashion.