MINE! 5 Tips for Teaching Your Children to Share
There are many aspects of parenting where I’ve sort of stumbled into success, through no real talent of my own. (Well, maybe a little talent of my own!) One of those things is encouraging my children to become eager and willing to share.
My first daughter was well on her way to being a typical toddler. She’d fit right in with the seagulls in Nemo – MINE! MINE! MINE! Then Thing 1 and Thing 2 arrived right in the midst of her non-sharing universe and threw all that for a loop.
The thing with having twins (or more) is that they never know a time that doesn’t involve sharing. They shared a very crowded uterus. They shared a crib and still share a bed. They share attention and time and snacks and illnesses. Basically, they are experts in sharing. And, by default, my oldest started to get with the program.
Admittedly, it was more challenging for her. She knew what it was to have toys – and parents – all to herself. She wasn’t too keen on the new way of doing things. But with some encouragement along the way she embraced the idea. Now all three of my kids are stellar at sharing. If you’re hearing nothing but MINE at your house, here are some tips to encourage your children to share.
1. Make sharing an expectation, not a request
Instead of asking your moody two-year-old, “Would you like to give your friend a turn?” (We know the answer to that – HECK NO!!!), let your child know how long his turn will be. “Alright – you can play with the ball for five minutes, but then it is your friend’s turn!”
2. Let the timer be the boss
Once you’ve let them know the duration of turns, set a timer. When the timer goes off, the toy is handed off. In the beginning, this may be met with resistance. Make sure to always follow through so that your child learns the timer means a switch. Remind him that once his pal’s turn is done, he can have another turn. It won’t be long until he asks for the timer when HE wants a turn!
3. Offer praise for progress made
When your child learns to ask instead of grab or doesn’t sob when it is someone else’s turn, make sure to recognize these steps toward sharing. Tell him, “I like the way you said please when you asked for the toy! It makes me happy to share it with you!” or “You’re waiting so patiently for your turn. Why don’t we go down the slide while we are waiting for the swing?”
4. Model sharing behaviors
Think about what your child hears on a regular basis: Don’t touch! That’s not for kids! Leave that alone! Admittedly, it is important to protect your child (and your things) by limiting contact in certain areas. But make a point to share with your child when you can. Allowing him to try on your shoes and clothes, sample your food, and showing him how to – carefully – handle some of your things (from collectibles to kitchen tools) helps him to see that you are willing to share, too.
5. Allow him a few non-sharing items, too
Most children have a few items that are of special importance to them, whether a lovey or a favorite toy. When you’re gearing up for a playdate it’s alright to have a few things that your child doesn’t have to share. Put those items in a special place beforehand to avoid any potential conflicts. In our house – with siblings around – it has always been understood that someone can claim their favorite items as non-shareable with no questions asked. And the first day a new item enters the house, they have a grace period when they aren’t required to share – yet.
Introducing taking turns and sharing can be a challenge, but it’ll help prepare them for the future. Life is full of sharing. Except for dessert. That’s all mine.