30 January 2015
Every Preschooler’s Dilemma: To Share or Not to Share
Teaching your child how to share can be a frustrating process for you as a parent. After all, we want our children to be nice & generous with their peers. However, it is often a tough concept for young ones to learn, but a very important social skill that should not be avoided. It is difficult for children to think beyond the immediate future, and most do not have a very good grasp of time. Having to patiently wait their turn, while watching another child play with their toy is hard. “Preschoolers are just learning that it feels good to give and that it’s fun to share with friends,” says Roni Leiderman, associate dean of the Family Center at Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. As parents, we can help this process by beginning to talk about the importance of sharing, celebrating their generosity, and gently discouraging the times when they are a little less apt to share.
Helpful Steps To Take:
Make Sharing Fun: There are many activities you can do with your child that will positively reinforce their ability to share. Participate in a project together around the house, such as baking a cake. Start by taking turns with the ingredients, which not only teaches them patience while it’s your turn, but also how to share with the necessary steps. At the end you have a wonderful treat, and had fun while doing it. Other activities could include putting a puzzle together by taking turns with the pieces, or playing a cooperative game that leads to a common goal for the both of you. While at school, incorporate the concept of sharing by sending stickers for your child to give to all of their friends. Something as small as this instills the love of giving teaching them that is fun to share!
Use Positive Reinforcement: It is natural for a child to be impulsive with their sharing habits, however, how we react to them when they are reluctant to share can make all the difference in the world. Disciplining your child verbally, or forcing them to give over a toy they are insisting on keeping, can cause resentment instead of generosity. “To encourage sharing, use positive reinforcement rather than admonishment,” Leiderman says. When your child does decide to share, praise them with your words, letting them know how proud that makes you. There are times when your child will want to hold back on certain items, such as a brand new toy, or one that holds a special place in their heart. This is completely normal at this age, and it’s ok for them to hold onto some toys tighter than others. Help them to choose some toys that they are willing to share with others, and set aside the special ones. As your child grows, they will come to realize how fun it is to play with their toys and their friends, and will begin to show more consistency with their sharing habits.
Be Their Rold Model: Your child is observing you, and when they see that you share, it makes a strong impression upon them, and in turn, they will begin to do so as well. Take the time to reinforce this skill by doing little things, such as halving your brownie with your child, letting your little girl wear a pair of high heels around the house, or your little boy play a special game on your phone. Ask for them to share something with you as well, which only further helps their understanding of the whole idea of what it is to be generous. Sharing is such an important social skill that they will need for the rest of their lives. Start while they are young, make it fun, stay consistent & model the act of sharing in front of them. Your child will begin to grasp the whole concept over time, which will only set them up for success in the future.
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