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5 Tips on Encouraging Your Child to Share

There are a few social skills your child has to learn if you want their entry into kindergarten to be successful. One of the most important ones is to learn the concept and practice of sharing.
If your child has siblings, chances are they already understand both the concept and the practice and they’ve become relatively comfortable in sharing things with their siblings.

However, if your child is an only child, they may only be accustomed to sharing things with the parents, and not with other children. Sharing things with strange children may also be a problem with children who have siblings as well. The problem won’t become apparent until they encounter other children in a school setting.

By teaching your children to share in a home environment, you’ll give them some preparation to deal with multiple other children successfully in a school environment. Here are 5 tips that will help in encouraging your child to share.

It’s Never too Early to Start

Sharing is something they’ll have to do throughout their lives, so it’s never too early to begin their understanding of the concept. Teach them that the words ‘mine’ and ‘yours’ can be only relative terms, they are not necessarily absolute.

Practice passing an object back and forth between your child and yourself, saying the words ‘mine’ and ‘yours’ as the object changes possession. As they grasp this concept, increase the amount of time that you and your child maintain possession the object.

This also will help them learn about the concept of ‘later’, as time is an important element in sharing. As long as a child understands the concept that an object will be returned to them at some point in the future, they may be more willing to share it at the moment.

Be a Role Model in Sharing

Take care to avoid any instances around your children that could be perceived as avoiding or refusing to share. Share your time and possessions (within necessary limits).

Children naturally want to emulate and mimic the behaviour of people they look up to. Take advantage of this by serving as a good role model for polite, sharing behaviour. The words ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ should also be introduced into the sharing concept every time an object changes hands.

Introduce the Concepts of Owning and Lending

As soon as your child has grown comfortable with the basic concept of sharing, it’s time to refine their sharing and introduce the ideas of ‘owning’ and ‘lending’ into the sharing concept. Teach them that some possessions are not okay to share. You wouldn’t want your child to arrive home from kindergarten wearing some other child’s prescription eyeglasses, for instance.

Teach them that ‘mine’ and ‘yours’ can have two different meanings and give them examples to support this idea.

Plan Sharing Activities for Two or More Children

If your child has a regular playdate group, this is easy to do. But if they don’t, bring your child to a play centre or playground and try to encourage them to share amongst the other children.

By observing how they react to sharing other children’s toys and their own, you can get a good idea about the aspects of sharing you still need to work on with them. But, these sharing activities should be fun and not an examination that they have to pass. You should be ready to jump in and keep the peace when sharing isn’t fun anymore.

Teach Them the Concept of Boundaries

No one should be forced to share their possessions. It has to done by their own free will. Your child needs to understand this and recognise that ‘no means no’. They have to recognise that it’s not ‘sharing’ unless the other child agrees to it.

By teaching your child that some boundaries are not to be crossed, your child will avoid a lot of tears and arguments once they enter kindergarten. They will have a head-start in getting along with other children and this will help them in continuing to develop their social skills.