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Learning to share

Posted by Karen Faulkner on
Learning to share

Sharing doesn't always come easy to most children and I know a lot of adults don't share well either!

So we need to look close to home before we label our children a poor sharer!

Modelling good sharing behaviour is crucial to success.

Why do 2-year-olds not share well?

It's all to do with the stage of development and they have been the centre of attention since babyhood so it makes sense that they think it should continue.

Sharing does not come naturally and so needs to be taught. It's a good concept to start at 2 years old. By 3 years old most children can appreciate and understand what sharing/turn-taking is and why it's important.

I did a toddler seminar and a mum attended who had recently had a baby. Her 2-year-old, Lucy had been taken to her first playgroup and had taken a toy off another child with a shout of, "It's mine!". Poor mum was mortified and promptly left the playgroup. Quelle horreur! What would you do?

What can you do?

It's actually a really good learning event to stay it out and turn it around. Take the toy off Lucy and give it back to the other child saying to Lucy, "I felt really upset when you took the toy off the other little girl and it made her upset too. Next time we come here we need to take our turn with the toys." If we talk to them at eye level and hold their hands it means so much more. She may squirm, look

If we talk to them at eye level and hold their hands it means so much more. She may squirm, look embarrassed etc but at least you've got across a personal feeling. It's very powerful, especially the 'I' word and connecting it to an emotion.

At-home practice turn-taking games to encourage sharing. Things like building a tower of blocks. Give Lucy X amount of blocks and you take X amount. Direct the game and explain the rules. Praise her when she takes a turn by saying something like, "Good job Lucy. Thank you for taking your turn." or "It makes playing so much more fun when we take turns. Thank you for taking turns Lucy."

Older children can learn turn-taking by games such as snakes and ladders, Connect 4 or Junior Scrabble.

Down the park ball games such as rounders/softball, cricket, football all help.

Sharing is a concept and value children must learn

This skill is helping friendships prosper, make school more enjoyable and to have playdates.

Poor sharers will lose friends and work colleagues. Nobody wants to be friends with a selfish person. Altruism is a skill we all need if we are to get on with others and in life.

So the sooner we teach it, and I suggest two years old is a good age to start. As a result, we are enhancing our children's prospects and life chances.

Other ways to encourage sharing

    • Point out good sharing in others. You can say things like, ‘Your friend was sharing her toys really well. That was very kind of her’. You can also point out sharing examples in any books, DVDs or TV shows your child enjoys. For example, you could say things such as, ‘Look at Karen and Rhys sharing the playdough on Playschool. They’re having so much fun!’

    • When you see your child trying to share or take turns, make sure you give lots of praise and attention. For example, ‘I liked the way you let Jake play with your train. Great sharing!’

    • Play games with your child that involve sharing and turn-taking. Talk your child through the steps, saying things like, ‘Now it’s my turn to build the tower, then it’s your turn. You share the red blocks with me, and I’ll share the yellow blocks with you’.

    • Talk to your child about sharing before she goes on playdates with other children. For example, you could say, ‘When Georgia comes over, you’ll need to share some of your toys. Why don’t we ask her what she wants to play with?’ You can also talk to your child about sharing before heading off to child care or preschool.

  • Put away any special toys when other children are coming to play at your house. This might help avoid problems with sharing altogether. Children are usually very protective around 'favourite' toys and react worse when these are shared or "borrowed' by another child. It's a territorial thing.

What should you do if your child does not like sharing? That's for another blog...

If you’re feeling unsure don’t hesitate to get in touch I’m also available most weeks for questions and free help on Facebook live. Here’s a link to a previous video to give you a feel for what I do and how it works:

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