Recently we wrote about helping kids value sharing. If your child needs some practice sharing, and you want some practical ideas, consider following in the footsteps of this thoughtful dad:
My 6-year-old son, Brayden, was really having trouble sharing and playing with other kids, including his sister. So I bought a few really special toys, put them up on the shelf, and told Brayden that these were Sharing Toys. He could get them down when he was ready to play with them with his sister. At first when he would get them down I played too, to make sure Brayden and Jenna got off to a good start. Then, when Brayden would bring back the toys to be put away, I asked him how it felt to share, and I affirmed his sharing with his sister. Over time, Brayden has really learned to sense when he is in a state of being ready to share, and he will say, “Okay, I’m ready to get that toy down now.” He has become much more flexible and happy about sharing in general.
What a great way to encourage joyful sharing! This dad modeled it and then left his children when they were truly enjoying sharing.
When we set our kids up for success and allow them some control over what and when they are ready to share, they are more open to learning the fruits of sharing: the feeling of happiness, service, and community that comes from a generous spirit. Here’s another variation on this approach: Give your child a “my toys only” bin that they don’t have to share — but of course, they also can’t possibly fit all their toys in the bin. Each time they want to add a toy to the “no-share” bin, you can gently ask them, “Okay, what would you like to take out of the bin to share?” This allows kids the autonomy of choosing some toys to be special, which helps kids learn that some privacy and boundary-setting is okay and even healthy. But it also teaches them the process of deciding when and how they want to be generous.
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