Research shows that forcing children to share doesn’t work. A study supported by Cornell’s Cognitive Science Fellowship shows that kids who make the decision to share are more likely to do so in future scenarios than those forced to share.
So how do you help your child develop a practice of sharing if it’s only effective when they make a conscious choice? These tips will help guide you in teaching your child how to share with others.
Model How to Share
Children learn from example, so modeling good sharing practices is an excellent place to start. You will want to be conscious of moments where your child is witnessing sharing in action and highlight them.
First, point out when you and your partner or other family members share with each other. Some of these situations will arise organically, but you may also want to stage sharing moments. You could make a point to verbalize when you and your partner are sharing food, for example.
Exaggerate your level of delight when something has shared with you. This will show your child that they can bring joy to others through sharing.
It is also important to model acceptance when someone does not want to share. Your child does not need to believe that they must share all the time and will also need to learn that not everyone will share whenever your child wants them to. Modeling acceptance and a positive attitude will help support your child’s emotional regulation when they don’t get their way.
Praise Children Sharing
Another key aspect of supporting your child’s development of sharing skills is to praise them when they share. Studies show that using praise to reinforce positive behavior is an excellent strategy. Humans are neurologically wired to be happy when we experience social approval.
By praising your child and their peers when sharing occurs, you are teaching them that sharing will bring them positive feelings.
Create Situations for Sharing Lessons
Playing games with your child that require taking turns and sharing materials is an excellent strategy for positive childhood development in your young one. Make sure to consistently use sharing language, asking for permission to use a material, and enforcing turn-taking.
Putting your child in social situations with toys and peers is another environment to cultivate the childhood communication skills needed for sharing. If you are supervising a play date, do not force the kids to share, but rather encourage empathy. When one of them does not want to share, help the other child regulate their emotions and find something else to play with.
Childcare centers can be excellent places for kids to develop sharing skills. However, not all centers will put the time, care, and effort into doing this. You want to find a childcare facility with a strong, research-based curriculum and dedicated, patient staff who will give your child the individual attention they deserve.
Reflect with Your Child
One last important tip is to actively reflect with your child after all types of sharing scenarios. Reflect on how they felt, and on the reactions of their peers. Help your child develop empathy for others while teaching them that their own boundaries and happiness are important too.
Teaching your child how to share is not an overnight process. It will require consistency, dedication, and lots of patience. However, if you implement these tips, you are sure to raise an empathetic and emotionally intelligent future citizen!
Contact us today if you are looking for an institution with the pedagogy and work ethic to support your efforts at home!