Have you ever wondered why your Prep or young child seems to share well with others at school and daycare but doesn’t do the same with siblings or friends at home? It is a common problem in most households and sometimes (unfortunately) persists into adulthood.
Our Prep teachers have a combined experience of more than 40 years and know the secrets to encourage children to share. Here are just four of those secrets to help your child share with others.
1. Stress behaviour rather than moral wrongness.
Encourage play according to rules and take the focus off what is fair. For example, if there is a new toy in the house and the rule is that each child has a ten-minute turn with the toy, when the inevitable dispute arises, stress that the rule is ten minutes sharing before the next turn rather than what is fair or not. You won’t escape the ‘it’s not fair’ response but young children will understand the rules before they can understand fairness for others.
2. Be pre-emptive.
Use every opportunity to read stories or talk about experiences that explore empathy and compassion for others. Just because a young child’s mind can’t fully grasp how others feel doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be training them to think this way and grow their ability for compassion. Ask questions about how characters in a book may have felt and encourage your child to explore his or her emotions around different situations.
3. Attend to the ‘victim’ and use diversions where possible.
This tip is especially handy when the child unwilling to share is not your own. Give attention to the child who missed out on the sharing opportunity and find something fun for them to play with or do something together. Young children have short attention spans and pretty soon the child who didn’t want to share will want to join in with your new activity.
4. Plan sharing practice opportunities.
Sharing is an important character trait that we want our children to embrace as soon as they are old enough to do so. We want our children to grow up compassionate, kind and to share with others. Deliberately including teaching opportunities to practice sharing in your weekly activities will encourage this from a young age. Remember to keep it rule-based, of short duration and have diversions on hand. Planning ahead for the potential problems will help you, as a parent, develop this important life-skill in your child.
Mike Curtis, Principal