SHARING; the most challenging task to do, for the children, and to teach, for the parents.
When did I Feel the Need to Teach SHARING to Hitarth?
When Hitarth was 2.8 years old and began going to the park in our community to socialize with other children, he would bring one of his toys with him, which he never played with and would leave it lying around. However, if another child picked up the toy, Hitarth would immediately claim it as his own and take it back from them.
Initially, I would pressure Hitarth to share his toys, but he would become frustrated and resistant. This led me to realize the importance of teaching him the meaning and significance of sharing, including how it fosters qualities such as humility, empathy, and cooperation. In the following sections, I will share some tips and tricks that I have used, and continue to use, to promote sharing in children.
Why Sharing Is An Important Milestone to Achieve?
It is common for parents to overlook the importance of teaching their children how to share. However, it is crucial to remember that being able to get along with others requires the ability to share. Children must acquire this skill to learn how to divide resources fairly, engage in peaceful play, make friends, take turns, communicate effectively, and manage disappointment when their favorite belongings are not available.
Children who learn how to share also learn valuable skills such as compromise and fairness. They understand that by giving up some of what they love to others, there is a chance they will receive something they want in return. It is especially important for children to learn how to share when they begin having playdates with other children, attending child care, preschool, or kindergarten.
Why do Kids Struggle with Sharing?
Why is it so difficult for kids to share? The simplest reason is, they might have no idea what Sharing is! If they know, then for them sharing is, “Sacrifice something you want and don’t complain about it.” There might be many more reasons they don’t want to share, including;
- Their feelings and understanding others’ emotions are not yet fully formed.
- They may feel if other kid likes the toy, he/she may take it away forever.
- Sometimes they are annoyed, exhausted, or irritated, which hinders their ability to understand & respect others’ needs.
- Or sometimes, when they see others not sharing, they too deny. Hitarth also does that. When he asks for others’ toys & they don’t give him, the next time, he would not share his & says, “he/she also didn’t share.” And that is when no explanation can convince him that sharing is good.
- They recently received a new toy which has become their favorite. The very common reason, right?
- Sharing is a difficult skills that will gradually develop over several years.
At What Age Should Children Be Taught to Share?
I observed that we should not expect much from children below 3 because they aren’t developmentally ready to share. Very young kids do not understand the concept of sharing very well because they usually understand the concept of ownership at a young age, so they are reluctant to give away their toys. Nevertheless, they can play together but might be unwilling to give their own belongings. Many kids have the concept of sharing and taking turns by age three.
Also, at age 3+, they start understanding that if they don’t share, the friend next to them might not play with them tomorrow, so sharing suddenly becomes relevant to them. At this age, they also learn to control their impulses to wait and not just grab what they want. This really helps them learn how to share. So as per my observations, Age 3 could be an appropriate age to teach kids sharing. Not to mention, we all must choose the rule that fits best with how we want to raise our kids, but try to stick to it once we do.
Over the course of many years, the practise of sharing becomes second nature. Therefore, you should never wait until it is too late to begin teaching your kid the idea that sharing and caring for others is important.
What did I do to Promote Sharing in Hitarth?
Keep Talking About it!
If you have read my previous blogs, you would know that I always insist on “TALKING WITH KIDS.” Because this helped me a lot in raising Hitarth this beautifully & I am proud of my parenting. Even if you feel they are not listening, DON’T STOP! Because they do listen & comprehend. The same thing happened with Hitarth; every now & then, I keep talking about sharing with Hitarth, so gradually, he is improving & sharing his belongings with other kids.
And there is one good thing about him is that he himself offers his toy to kids younger than him. He would ask them, “Baby, you want to play with it?” If they say yes, he gives it & politely says, ”here, play, okay?”
Some More Things I do;
- Before visiting the park or on the way to it, I keep reminding him that there will be other kids in the park who might want to play with your toys, so he should share & play together. And some days, he gets so influenced by our talk that he offers his toys to other kids even when they don’t ask for them.
- Sometimes, when he is reluctant to share, I ask him if he is a bad boy. He would say, “No, I am good,” and then I ask him if the good boy doesn’t share, & that’s it; he immediately shares.
- If he is taking more than one toy to the park, I would ask him to play with his favorite one and can share other toys with the kids. Or simple they can take turns & play.
- I praise & appreciate him when he shares. Believe me, it works wonders. Kids love to do the same thing again and again when they receive praise & attention. So try it.
What You Can Do To Promote Sharing?
Obviously, you can try out things that I did. Apart from the above mentioned tips, below are some more;
- Talk to your child about why sharing is good for them and other people.
- Give plenty of praise when they share for the first time.
- Play turn-taking and sharing games.
- Read books about sharing.
- If your kid is having siblings at home, it might be more easier for you to teach SHARING. Because you share the love & care for all your children, the same way you can teach them with some examples.
How To Teach Kids to Take Turns?
Although Hitarth knows what does TURN means because we play LUDO at home & he waits for his turn; also, he observe it when we go for shopping & wait in the queue for payments & he waits patiently there too. But why does the same thing vanishes as soon as he go to park to play on the swing & ride bicycle etc, etc? For this, I reserached & read many blogs for some tips on how to help kids take turns while they are playing; which I am sharing here.
I have discovered that it is not difficult at all to put these techniques into practise since there are so many different situations throughout the day in which we may practise taking turns.
- Make up your own story where kids take turns playing together and tell the same to your kids every day before bed.
- Playing board games/card games is one of the most effective methods to improve their ability to take turns, like I said, we play Ludo.
- We know that kids do what we do, not what we say, right? So keep repeating the phrases “my turn” and “your turn” at the proper times to ensure that your kid is aware of whose turn it is at any given moment. For example, Hitarth rolls chapati with me everyday and we do this alternately, like I roll one chapati and the next one is for Hitarth to roll. And we keep saying, ”My turn, your turn.”
- Many kids struggle to wait for their turn because they wasily gets bored when its not their turn. So in such case, offer them something else so they can play with that for sometime while they are waiting for the turn.
Should You Force Your Kids to Share?
Never! The imposition of sharing is disrespectful. Children should not feel compelled to give up something they value because someone else needs it. If a kid loves a toy, we can request him to give it for a while is okay but never force him to give it away. Respect that children are naturally possessive, even as you teach and show them how to share.
Sometimes there is a possibility that your kid is the one who has always heard ‘No’ from others and this might be the reason that he denies to share, in such cases, we can teach them how to speak up for themselves in a kind and respectful way.
And we should not forget that it is completely normal for even 4-year-olds not to share because it’s not that they don’t want to share; it’s just that they don’t yet understand how to share fairly. So, let them learn gradually & at their own pace.
Always remember that; even though it can be annoying and sometimes embarrassing, keep in mind that this is just how kids act while they are asked to share. With help from parents and carers, they’ll keep getting better at sharing.
No kid will ever be consistently excellent at sharing, so it is better to accept this and do what you can to encourage them.