At the ages of 2 and 3, your child is not only developing emotionally, but socially too. Sharing is an important life skill, and these years are the perfect time to plant the seed of sharing.
In fact, you might have already noticed instances where your child shared with others. As a parent, it’s important to reinforce and continue to encourage sharing. Here are four practical tips for teaching your toddler or preschooler this important life skill.
Tip #1 – Lead by example
The easiest way to teach children to share is by showing them how it’s done. During family movie time, offer to share a pillow or blanket with them. This shows that sharing doesn’t always mean giving something up. Instead, sharing is also a way to bond or connect with another person. At dinner (or mealtime), share your food with them and ask if they will share back. After the fact, positively reinforce this behavior by thanking and praising your child.
Tip #2 – Initiate interaction
First, help your child learn to share with siblings, cousins, and even other adults. They can take turns playing with toys together. Make a mental note of the times they shared nicely with their sibling. “Remember when you were playing with Tommy and shared your truck with him? He was so happy you did that.”
Opportunities to share can occur outside of family time as well. If your child is enrolled in a school like U-GRO, their teachers are most likely encouraging sharing with other students. A great way to reinforce this behavior is to arrange play dates to let your child practice sharing with others in a social setting. Play dates are a great opportunity to observe how your son or daughter interacts with other children who aren’t their siblings. When the time comes to arrange another play date, remind them of those specific moments they played well with their siblings.
Tip #3 – Encourage acts of kindness
Another way to emphasize sharing and caring with others is to incorporate acts of service into your time with your child. If you have a relative or friend who is sick, have your son or daughter help you brainstorm kind gestures to express your concern. If your child is involved in a team sport, you could also take an extra nutritious snack you prepared together to share with the sports team after a game. These two ways will help your child take notice of ways to be thoughtful and caring towards others.
Tip #4 – Be mindful
Introducing the concept of sharing may be difficult for your son or daughter at first. It is okay for you and your child to go through the house and pick out a few of their favorite toys and tuck them away in a safe place before a play date begins. Another option is to have your child’s friend bring some of their own toys to play with too. If your son or daughter sees their friend being generous, it will encourage them to be generous also.
Compliment your son or daughter when you see them share, but also know that there will be instances when they may be less willing to share. This is a great time to discuss what the conflict is and how to problem solve with solutions to the conflict. Adults will often need to model as well as coach and walk children through this process. Parents can role-play sharing scenarios, such as when another child takes a toy away from the child, that would allow the parent and child to walk through the problem solving process together.
At U-GRO, we believe in the importance of community and sharing well with others. These skills are a key part of your child’s education and experiences at our centers. To learn more about our methods of developing social skills and quality interactions, visit our curriculum page or contact us for more information.