Sharing is caring… right?
Many parents believe that the best way for their child to be caring, kind, generous, and cooperative with others is to teach them how to share. Although sharing is an important skill, many educators now believe forcing children to share does not actually teach the intended lessons. Below we will go over skills that can help develop your child’s social skills.
Children learn valuable skills when they are given the opportunity to solve their own conflicts. When two children argue over a toy, they can often work it out themselves if given the time and opportunity. If you see that they cannot resolve the issue on their own, try asking questions like:
- I see you both want the doll. What do you think would be fair? Should we set a timer and you can take turns playing with it for a few minutes? Or shall we find another doll and you can play with both dolls together?
To clarify, we do not mean encouraging your child to be rude. Instead, try giving your child the opportunity to say no to someone who wants something of theirs. This way you are teaching them to be assertive. Your child isn’t being impolite when they tell another child, “No.” You can help by modeling the words to say:
- I’m still playing with it.
- You can have it when I’m done.
- It’s my turn now, then it can be your turn.
We should show our children that we don’t always get what we want when we want it. Like assertiveness, this is a valuable life lesson for children. You can help by giving words to your child’s feelings. Remember to point out when they act in a positive way, as well!
- I see that you are mad/sad because your brother has the toy right now.
- I know it is frustrating to wait, but Sophia isn’t done playing.
- I see that you want the toy Liam is playing with. I like how you asked him for it- let’s wait for your turn.
Ultimately, we want our children to share because we want them to be cooperative and kind to their friends and siblings, not because they feel obligated. Child-directed sharing can empower your child to develop the social skills necessary for healthy relationships.