Help Your Child Learn to Share
Many parents struggle with teaching their child how to share. Here are some techniques you can use. As always, check out My Baby Compass for more parenting tips.
- Don’t punish your child for demonstrating periods of possessiveness about her toys, wanting parental attention or trying to be the “center of attention.” This is normal for a preschool child and punishment for this behavior won’t solve the problem. She will grow out of this behavior if she is given guidance. Use these occasions as an opportunity for her to learn to understand her emotions and the emotions of others and how to react to them. This means you have to share your time and possessions to set a good example.
- When your child won’t share a toy, honor her feelings. Tell your child’s playmate or sibling, “She wants the toy; when she is finished with it, then it is your turn.” Give the playmate or sibling another toy to play with, and set a timer to establish how long the children can play with each toy. When the time is over, switch toys.
- If it is possible, have two or more of the same type of toys. These can be simple, such as paper airplanes, bubbles, whistles, balls, dolls, cars, sand buckets and shovels.
- Have your child place the toys she is willing to share in one basket and toys she doesn’t want to share in another basket. Remind her that she chose the toys to share. Also let the other children know that she doesn’t want to share the toys in her basket.
- If your child and her playmates or siblings aren’t cooperating in play, shift their attention by introducing a new activity such as reading a book, coloring, painting, fort building or going outside.
- Pay attention to what stage of play your child and her playmates or siblings seem to fall into, and act accordingly. Guide the children to trade toys and take turns. Step in when there is evidence of aggression, which could escalate into pushing, biting, hitting or kicking.
- If you can’t resolve the problem, it may be time for your child’s playmates to go home or to be separated. Everyone will learn that sharing is a necessary skill in order to be able to play together happily.
- Refrain from being a “helicopter” mom or dad. Your child needs to develop independence, reasoning skills, personal interaction with her peers and self-confidence. If you are making all the decisions and scheduling for her, she won’t learn how to manage her own time and social interactions.
– Kathryn Thorson Gruhn, MA CCC-SLP, author of My Baby Compass series