How do I teach my child to share?

How do I teach my child to share?

How do I teach my child to share?

Do you remember the seagulls in Finding Nemo? ‘’Mine, mine, mine, mine’’, this scene always reminds me of what it’s like to be in a room full of toddlers! A phrase has recently made it’s way into the parenting sphere, ‘’sharing is caring’’, but I’m going to disagree with that statement, because most of the time, we expect that our children have the ability to share much younger than they are developmentally ready to. That’s not to say that we can’t encourage sharing, or praise it when it does happen, we just shouldn’t expect it to happen, and we definitely shouldn’t be telling our children off when they don’t share. It’s not just my opinion, here’s the science behind the thinking…

What does a child need to learn to be able to share?

It’s so important to remember that children have underdeveloped brains, the rate of brain growth in under fives is so rapid, in fact, if a baby’s body grew at the same rate as their brain they would be 4ft6 by the time they turn one! In order to be able to share children need to have acquired many complex skills including, but not limited to; understanding language, being able to process that language in the moment, speaking skills, trust in the adults that are supporting them and trust in other children, and importantly, an interest in play with other children, this article by Pampers explains what happens in play before children are interested in play with others. Because children don’t have the capacity to play with others for a number of years this is why we shouldn’t tell children off for not sharing.

When is a child able to share?

It is usually at some point during a child’s third year that they become interested in playing with other children, ordinarily, children will play alongside each other up until this point. After the age of three, children might still be interested in others but not have the skills to be able to cooperatively play with one another. By the time a child is about 4 years old, they begin to associate their emotions with the feelings of others. While one child says they have a tummy ache, some four-year-olds may come over and comfort them. This shows that children at around age four are beginning to understand how others might feel, for example, if I take all this playdough, that child will not have anything to play with and they might feel sad.

How can I encourage my child to share?

Through play! Playing with your child is one of the best ways to teach them to share. Asking them for a turn with their toy, ‘’please can I have a turn with the shaker?’ and waiting for the response before taking it will encourage your child to do the same in play. Your child might say ‘no’, and that’s okay, children don’t have to share everything, especially when they have a special attachment to a toy, as adults we don’t share everything with our friends, why do we expect our children to?  Encouraging your child to wait even just a few seconds when you are playing with something they would like to play with will help them to understand it’s safe to ask for something and then know that they will get a turn. For slightly older children simple games that encourage turn-taking are a play-based way to teach this skill, our Tops and Tails matching game is perfect for turn-taking. It’s also important to look at your resources and ensure that there are enough things that will meet children’s needs, this will also avoid unnecessary arguments! Our Nesting Babies are a brilliant resource to be able to use with more than one child, each Nesting Baby has 3 dolls and one Chiming Shaker in the middle.

It’s important to remember that all children develop differently and at different ages and stages. Sharing is a difficult concept for children to learn and understand as they often get very big and sometimes reactions that will scare them from other children. Try supporting your child during play, and this will help them when playing with other children because you have taught them it’s safe. If you have any concerns at all about your child’s development, contact your GP or your child’s Health Visitor.

This blog has been written by our Resident Play Expert here at Rosa & Bo, Sarah Doman. Sarah is a Hypnobirth and Early Years Consultant. She helps families from pregnancy to children of school age to give birth and parent with confidence.

You can find her on social media @_sarahdoman_ or check out her website here.

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