Learning to share is a key part of the growing up process. It helps toddlers to make friends, play well with others, and learn about compromise and fairness.
Of course, sharing doesn’t always come naturally, and little ones usually need some extra encouragement to learn how to take turns with toys or share their goodies. Once they do get the hang of it, you can enjoy the peace of mind that they’ll head to pre-school or their childcare centre able to make new friends and play more harmoniously.
Try out these tips to help your toddler or preschooler to learn the value of sharing.
1. Lead by example
Become a role model at home by being prepared to share things with your child that you know they’ll enjoy - be it an ice-cream cone or anything else. Make sharing fun, by inviting them to “share” the couch with you to watch a movie or talk together. The more you share, the more influence your positive habits will have.
2. Talk about sharing before a play date
Make sure your child understands how you expect them to behave before meeting up with friends for a play date. Talk to them about sharing their toys and remind them of the benefits of sharing. For example, let them know that their friend might feel left out if they couldn’t play together.
3. Take extra toys with you
If you’re meeting up with your child’s friend, try taking a few toys with you - just in case the friend hasn’t fully grasped the concept of sharing. You could leave your child’s favourite toys at home, and just take those they’re happy to play with. This might encourage the other child to also share their toys, and the interaction will be more beneficial for both.
4. Encourage cooperative activities
Studies have found that children below the age of three don’t always do well in games that involve a single winner. Instead, try cooperative games or “make believe” games that aren’t overly competitive.
Remember that “sharing” doesn’t always refer to toys. Encourage children to share in activities such as painting or puzzles, where they can learn to work together as a team.
5. Start young
Sharing often goes against a child’s instincts, and if a child isn’t ready to fully share just yet, try offering alternatives. It usually helps to start embedding the value of sharing from an early age. Once your little one is able to grasp objects, try passing them back and forth and say “my turn, your turn”. This helps them to realise that giving away their toy isn’t a permanent thing, and sharing means they’ll get it back and can enjoy playing with another child.
6. Give plenty of praise
Whenever you notice your child sharing, respond with lots of praise and attention. You can do this when it happens, as well as after playtime to reinforce how happy you are with their behaviour. You could even point out good sharing in other people. For example, “It was very kind of Daisy to share her toys with you.”
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