Sharing is not a skill we are born with. Sharing is a skill we need to learn from a very young age. It does not come to us naturally.
Sharing goes hand in hand with empathy, caring and putting other’s well being ahead of our own. We are also born with a need to survive so snatching a toy or something we want and think we need seems more natural to us than sharing. Children are giving up something they really want and feel they absolutely need.
However, children also love rules, they give them clear boundaries and sense of safety. They know that if they follow rules they are safe and that the adults that look after them will be proud of them for doing the right thing.
This is where praise comes into place. Children want to please you so recognising that they did something well is so much more powerful than telling them off for doing the wrong thing, especially, if they had no idea that they were doing something wrong at first place.
Help is near though, we are professionals and we have some cool tools to help you along the way.
Set clear boundaries
Tell your child what the rule is first and remind them every day.
Are a great way to get children to empathize with story characters. There are many children’s books out there with the topic that talks about care, kindness, and empathy towards others.
We use sand timers at our school. Younger the child, the shorter the time on the timer. For two-year-olds, the timer should not be longer than 2-3 minutes. Time is an abstract concept, and children don’t understand words like “soon”, “next,” or “shortly.” With a sand timer, they can see time flowing. When the timer is up, it’s their turn. Children as young as 18 months can grasp the concept, and you would not believe how patiently they are waiting for their turn. So much so that when they want a toy another child is playing with, they “self-police.” They get the timer and follow the “sharing rule” without the adult having to step in.
As with any rule, be consistent. It is stressful and confusing to children when a rule is applied one day but not the other. Children will stop believing you and won’t trust you if you don’t follow through.