You’re in the living room. Laughing with a couple of friends you once had plenty of time to spend with, and since the children were born, much less. For a moment it seems like you are actually about to get a moment for yourselves to enjoy.
Then a terrible scream is heard from the direction of the nursery. You run over there and find your perfect, sweet angel pulling, with full intention, at the hair off his sweet two-year-old guest.
Now don’t you just wish for the ground to swallow you up?
You might feel happy that your child stands for himself, but in moments like this he probably appears to you as a spoiled brat, a monster! You can imagine how the children in kindergarten will not want to be his friends because he doesn’t share.
How to teach kids to share?
Let’s start with us
Answer me this: If a stranger comes up to you now, and just takes your cell phone, laptop or wedding ring? Would you be ok with it?
Let’s take a moment to look inside ourselves. Is it possible that we are possessive too? To our material things, to people we are close to, to our children?
Even when it’s not ‘wasted’, we sometimes simply do not want to share. It threatens us – childish as it may be. So what do we expect from our children?
Why is it important to share?
The ability to share is an essential skill for life. Children and toddlers need it in order to make new friends, continue friendships and play together. Once your child starts inviting friends over, or is invited to play with friends, he will need to know how to share.
So how do we teach kids to share? First we need to understand:
It is important to know that this unfriendly behavior is typical of a developmental stage. It means your child is just fine. He is simply going through important and necessary stages. Behind everything, you see there are actually really good reasons, and even logic. At this stage (2-3 years) children begin to understand that both they and all those around them have an independent existence. If until now a child experiences his parents as part of him, now he begins to understand that this is not the case, and that his parents are separate entities.
At the age of two or three, the need for control intensifies, and with it the desire to define a personal ‘space of existence’. Assigning toys for oneself is a part of a child’s territory definition, of what he defines as his own. It goes even to define who he is. From this place it is easier to understand how and why it becomes such an important and essential issue for him, that these toys will be his and only his.
The importance of privacy
Think about how you would feel if a friend came to your house and within a few moments took over your bedroom, measured the new garment you bought, smeared herself with your stunning body lotion and flipped through the books lying by the bed.
Something similar to that happens to your child when a friend comes and visits him in his private room. His privacy is invaded. It’s really, but really unpleasant for him. That is why it is important to give space and respect to your child’s desire and need for privacy.
We have already learned (some of us more, some of us less) how to deal with invasion of privacy. We respond sensitively and diplomatically, we know what to say, how and when, we conduct ourselves ‘between the drops’ in a calculated and conscious way and remember to take into account the other’s feelings and vulnerability. For a 2-3 year old, this complex dynamic is not yet accessible. He has not yet taken these courses at the University of Life. But do not worry – he will go up a grade and another grade and eventually get to that as well.
In some cases the child goes through a stage where he defines his identity by his objects. In the following stage, the child learns to develop social skills that will allow him to get along in society. Part of that social experience is learning that in society one sometimes has to compromise and give up. But it is important to understand that children are not born with this ability, so it is our job as parents to support and teach them.
Help your child learn to share
So how do we help them learn to share?
Children often learn from their parent’s behavior. When you show them how you share yourself, you are a great example to them.
Praise them when they succeed. It means sooo much to them.
Talk to your child before you come to a play meeting with other children. Prepare him or her that they will have to share.
When other children come to visit your home, put the special toys aside. This way you can avoid some problems in advance.
What to do when your child is not ready to share
Most kids have a hard time sharing, especially at first. They often need practice and support to develop this skill. If your child does not share well, try to practice together at home and talk about what you do. Another good idea would be to stay close when your child is playing with other children, and encourage him so that he does not forget to share.
What to do if he’s still refusing?
You should prepare in advance in case your children do not want to share. For example, if many siblings are on a toy and do not share with each other, one possible outcome would be to take the toy for a short period.
When using results because your child is refusing to share, it is important that they be related to the object they are sharing – or refusing to share. When the results – such as taking a toy – are related to the particular behavior they have demonstrated, they are fair and make children think about the issue. After a short time, give the children the toy back, giving them another chance to succeed in sharing. Try to make sure you don’t get angry in the process. Remember, the child is not bad, he is simply learning a new skill.
With all that has been said here, it’s really important to add – It is okay if sometimes your child will not want to share, will think only of himself and will not be nice. In the end, the most important skill for your child to learn from all this is the gentle dance between seeing the other person and seeing himself. Let’s face it – this is a skill we all practice all through our lives.
I would love to know what you think after reading this. If you fancy, leave me a comment below.
All the best and don’t forget to share..