Written by: Nanny Secours
Learning to share cannot be achieved overnight. As young children undergo a period of instant gratification, it is hard for them to understand the concept of sharing. As a result of their self-centred desires, pupils are reluctant to engage in sharing. However, the lesson of sharing must be learnt in early childhood, as is the case for any form of social skills.
1. Never force a child to share his toys. This can have the effect of discouraging him from sharing on his own initiative.
2. Teach by example when you play with him. This can be done by sharing toys or reinforcing every time you let someone else have an item that belongs to you (e.g. “I’m happy to let my friend Nancy borrow my book. I know she will enjoy reading it”).
3. Make multiples of the same toy available (for children under the age of two and a half years old). This is particularly a good idea for childcare establishments that group together several children of similar age ― and consequently, present reduced risks of conflicts.
4. Monitor sharing. Use a timer and limit the child’s play time with the toy he wants so badly so that he can let other children have it when his turn has elapsed.
5. Organize a “toys day.” Imagine an activity (for example one that is conducted at a daycare facility or as part of an evening with friends) where each child brings one toy he feels able to share with others, and agrees to temporarily separate from his personal object for the purpose of exploring the toys of his peers.
6. Use role plays as an effective means to help children understand certain concepts. Different scenarios enable the child to experience a given situation without the strong and difficult emotions associated with it.
7. Praise your child when he offers toys to peers.
8. Enable children to negotiate among themselves the sharing of toys.
9. Take the opportunity to help your child become more assertive and set clear boundaries. For example, a child who tends to hit his peers as soon as they approach his toys could be taught how to just say "no" or “that’s mine,” while using effective body language.
10. Be patient and indulgent towards the little ones as they go through the apprenticeship of being human!