As parents, we want to see our children playing happily with others, and being kind and sharing. You know that it’s an important life skill that will help them see success in their future social and professional lives. However, preschoolers just learning how to socialize may not quite grasp the concept and importance of sharing. Here are some ways you can help teach your preschooler about sharing.
Lead by example
You probably are familiar with your preschooler’s propensity to imitate what she sees you doing or saying, so use this to your advantage and model good sharing behavior. You may need to make it clear to your child that you are sharing. For example, “Your brother wants to try some of my pancake, so I’m sharing it with him,” or, “Let’s draw a picture together. We can share these crayons.” You can also show your preschooler that you can share things like feelings, thoughts, and stories too.
Make sharing fun
You can help make the concept of sharing into an enjoyable game for your preschooler. Assembling a jigsaw puzzle or playing a cooperative game together are good ways to show your child that sharing with others, whether it’s a toy or a task, can be rewarding and enjoyable.
Praise your child for sharing
Whenever your child does share with another, praising them or thanking them will help cement the idea that sharing is a good behavior. You don’t have to wait for spontaneous sharing to offer praise; praising your child for honoring your request to share or take turns will have the same positive effect. Of course, take care not to accidentally encourage rivalries between siblings or friends when doing so.
Take sharing at their pace
Sharing will be a relatively new concept to your preschooler, so help him along and set expectations. Let him know that taking turns playing with a toy is only temporary, and the toy will still be his.
It’s also a good idea to get your preschooler involved in the sharing process, and let him know that it’s his decision whether he wants to share or not. For example, he may feel a special connection to his favorite stuffed animal and experience anxiety at the thought of letting someone else play with it. In this case, you can ask him to share a different toy. Encourage sharing rather than forcing it.
Helping your preschooler learn about sharing takes patience, but there are several strategies you can employ to help your child learn this important social skill.