I have heard many stories on sharing. Some mummies mentioned that their oldest child didnt start to share until the younger sibling came along. Some said that it took their kid so long to learn to share. Some also believed that children eventually will learn to share when they go to school. For my husband and I, we believe in teaching and modeling sharing, and the idea of sharing should be instilled from young. At 18months, our little friend generally enjoys sharing her food with the family and friends. You need to understand that she has a passion for food and sharing was quite a great deal. She would gladly offer her food when requested, and at times voluntarily. She still needs a little more practice with sharing toys and I believe we will get there one day. So how did we teach our little friend to share? No fancy methods but 3 practical tips that worked for us for our first child:
1. Demonstrate sharing
It is important especially at the beginning when you are introducing the idea of sharing. Demonstration helps children to visualize what sharing is about and model after you. E.g. Mummy is sharing the biscuit with daddy.
2. When you ask your child to share (or to practice sharing) you need to actually receive the item that he/she is sharing
The child needs to understand that when he/she shares, a portion of the item will be taken away. Some adults tend to pretend to receive or reciprocate by “oh it’s okay you can have it” after they themselves requested the child to share. The child might be confused and eventually do not want to share. The adult should also receive with thanks, joyfully so that the child understands that it is good to share and sharing can make others happy.
3. Reinforce the idea of sharing by giving the portions to others first
The husband read an article somewhere that one way of teaching a child to share is to teach him/her that he/she don’t always get the first or the best portion. E.g when sharing a cake or biscuits, demonstrate sharing by giving the first portions to others, before giving the child his/her portion. This also teaches the child to wait and they don’t always get it first. It is very common for parents or grandparents to treat the child like a child-king, where everything else centers around the child. The child gets the best share and always gets it first. Reasons? Because the child is still young and they can’t wait. If you think they can’t and don’t teach them to, they will not learn to wait and share. The husband and I believe that children do learn and we make it a point to teach our little friend. Be amazed by what the brain of an 18month old can absorb! We started off with giving daddy and/or mummy first, followed by the extended family. I have a huge family and our little friend enjoys sharing with her grandparents, uncles and parents first before getting her share. It might also be a good opportunity to “test” the child if he/she recognizes who is who in the family.
Of course, children being children, it may take them some time to grasp the concept of sharing. They will also test you at times. As parents, if sharing is a concept that you value in your child, it is essential to be consistent and firm when teaching on sharing.