Ask a parent what their toddler’s favorite words are and the answer is most likely to be “no” and “mine”. Sharing doesn’t come naturally to preschoolers, which can make play dates less than pleasant. Preschool aged children are impatient and don’t have a firm grasp on time yet, so waiting to play with a toy while someone else has a turn first can be hard for them to manage. Getting through this stage can be frustrating for parents, but there are things you can do to help your child develop generous sharing habits.
Make it Fun
Right now your child has a negative view of sharing: he has to sit and watch while someone else plays with the toy that he wants to play with. You can help change his view of sharing to a positive one by making sharing fun. Share with your child throughout the day as you go through your normal routine. Share your chores with him: let him wipe off the counters while you do the dishes or let him water the plants. Play puzzles with him and make a point of taking turns with the pieces. Teach him that sharing with others will give him a good feeling by giving him snacks to share with his nursery school class, or by encouraging him to donate some of the toys that he doesn’t use anymore so that children less fortunate than him can have them to play with.
Keep it Positive
The idea is to foster generosity in your child, but if you tell him he’s selfish or punish him every time he won’t share something, the only thing you will be fostering is resentment. Sharing is a concept that should be taught using positive reinforcement. You should never force your child to hand over something against his will. There are certain possessions that are very important to him and there are times when it is ok for him to hold back. When you want him to share something, ask his permission first, don’t just take it from him. You should respect your child’s things as being his and give him the option to say no if he doesn’t want to share them. If he refuses to share when you feel that he should, do not yell at him. You should let him know that you are disappointed that he won’t share, but stay calm and don’t yell. Remember that the goal is to foster generosity, not resentment.
Lead by Example
Your child’s best example of how he should and shouldn’t behave is you so give him plenty of chances to witness your own generosity. Share your snack with him or take him with you to volunteer at a soup kitchen and show him that you are willing to share your time. Talk to him about how sharing with others makes you feel good and why it is important that we all share with one another. The best way to encourage your child to be a kind, generous, and giving person is to let him see you being those things yourself.