Sharing is an important social skill to have. Human beings are naturally co-operative, but that doesn’t mean that the majority of young children take to sharing easily. Toddlers are in an egocentric phase of development, which is to say they are used to being and feel like they should be the centre of the universe!
What Age Should A Child Be Starting To Share?
In a national parent survey, nearly half (43%) of parents in the US 43% thought that children should be able to master the art of sharing by the age of 2. This may be too young however and refusing to share is perfectly natural at that age.
As Supernanny’s parenting expert Dr. Martha Erickson explains: “Young children are by nature self-centered, so they tend to want things such as food, toys, and attention - all to themselves, with little or no regard for others' needs. It takes several years of maturation and experience for children to learn to take another’s feelings into account.
“At three, children are just moving toward the age when they can grasp the concept of sharing and the idea of sharing and taking turns must be taught by example, guidance, and repetition.”
Different children do develop at different rates however and it’s never too early to start setting a good example.
Here Are Some Tips To Help Encourage And Teach Your Child To Share:
Make it exciting
Toddlers love it when you look excited to do something and they are likely to repeat the action to see your excitement. Play games with your toddler and preschooler that involves sharing and turn-taking. For instance, do puzzles, build blocks, plant the garden and give him/her things to share with friends.
Give plenty of praise
Praise sharing when your child does it and also point out good sharing behaviour in others. ‘I really liked the way you let Oliver take a turn with your train.’ Or, ‘Did you see how Jessica shared her ball? That was very kind of her.’
Two-year-olds might take a ‘half step’ of showing toys and possessions without actually handing them over. This too should be praised as learning to share is a gradual process.
Set up ‘take a turn’ toys or games
It can be useful to set up activities to help your toddler to learn to share, either with yourself or with other young children they are playing with. Get out easily shared items like blocks or crayons and use or make up games that involve taking turns. Talk about what you are doing out loud - ‘Now it’s my turn to add a block…now it’s your turn.
The seeds of good values are downright from childhood. Display acts of generosity now and then. You can do this by pointing out good sharing in others and most importantly leading by your own example.
Sharing is a learned behavior. It takes time and patience for little ones to even start to grasp the concept of sharing, never mind practicing it consistently. It can be frustrating and even embarrassing when your child refuses to share, but by using encouragement and setting a good example, you can help your child to share with others naturally.