My son has difficulty sharing his toys. How can I help him learn to share?
Just as your child’s Kindergarten year will provide multiple opportunities for them to practice taking turns it will also provide opportunities to develop sharing. Kindergarten students are expected to be able to share without hitting or throwing a fit and to share fairly without adult intervention. This will result in the mastery of yet another one of those skills that will stay with your child throughout their entire life. Sharing is definitely a tough concept for children to master. The best way to make sure your child has plenty of opportunities for sharing even before they enter Kindergarten is to enroll them in some kind of activity that involves play with others of their age whether it be a Mother’s Day Out, Preschool, or simply the children’s class at your place of worship.
Now that I know, what do I do?
Practice! This is the number one activity you can do with your child. Sharing is really a hard concept to teach if you don’t allow time for your child to practice this skill from the beginning. This can be easy if your child has siblings but even if they don’t you can help your child practice. Play with your child and then ask to share a certain toy. If you’re met with resistance develop a plan that you both can agree on. “I’ll let you bounce the ball twenty more times and then it’s my turn to bounce it twenty times.” Make sure you discuss and emphasize sharing fairly.
Divide things evenly. Practice dividing toys evenly with your child. You might want to start with something extremely obvious at first. Using a pile of blocks or something else your child has an interest in and give your child only a few while you get the rest. Start a discussion about why that wasn’t fair.
Provide opportunities for free play as much as possible. Along with the above mentioned enrolled, weekly activities, be sure to take your child to the park, playground, swimming pool, play group, or wherever there are other kids! Remember to allow children to attempt to come to a solution for sharing on their own. If they can’t, model sharing and develop a fair system for play. For example: “Bella can swing for five minutes while you push her. Then you can switch places and she’ll push you on the swing for five minutes” or “There are other children on the swings right now, so let’s go play on the slide until someone leaves.”
Provide positive feedback. Catch your child sharing and then praise them! Children love to know you’re proud of them and this reinforces the positive behavior. It’s a win, win!
There are also times when it’s not okay to share. (toothbrushes, lunch money, etc.) It’s important to discuss these times with your child as well and even role play some scenarios.