Sharing is one of the hardest parts of growing up. Even as adults people tend to feel a sense of invasion when someone touches their things. Yet sharing is a social goal that each child must meet. Learning how to teach your child to share can be hard on a parent because it involves teaching your child that other people can be as important as your child is.
Understand But Don’t Excuse
Children go through various stages of development. During the toddler years, children are selfish because they literally believe the world revolves around them. This is not a character flaw. It is simply a stage of childhood. In part it is due to the fact that the toddler stage is the first stage that allows a limited sort of independence. Up until now your child has relied on you to meet every single need. They were not even able to walk to a specific area to get what they wanted. You responded to every need and helped create the idea that the world revolved around the child. Now it is time to introduce the concept of the needs of others.
Swap and Share
Since children in this stage do only focus on themselves, it’s best to teach them how to share in a way that benefits them. If you take a toy from your child to give it to another child, they don’t see any benefit in it for them. They won’t want to repeat the experience. Instead, have the children swap toys so that each child benefits. This is a process you may have to repeat over and over before your child is happy with it. At first they only see that the lost something. They won’t even recognize things like “fair trade” because their minds aren’t ready to process it.
Beyond Toddler Years
Your child should learn to share before the toddler years are over. If they don’t, you are going to have a very difficult process on your hands. Much of the joy of sharing comes from making someone else happy. You have to teach your child to appreciate someone else’s happiness as much as they appreciate their own. Whether your child is a toddler or older, point out the facial expressions that change as one child brings joy to another. Demonstrate this in your own behavior with people around you, including your children.
Beyond all direct instruction, the best way to teach your child to share is to lead by example. If you don’t know how to share, don’t expect your child to. Always remember that your child patterns their behavior off of the behavior of their parents above anyone else.