5 Ways to Teach Your Kids to Share

We tend to assume that social skills should be born in children.  We also tend to think that those that they don’t possess will evolve naturally over time.  Neither of those assumptions is true.  Sharing and other social skills must be taught and re-taught and taught again and again and again.  Much in the way you house train a pet, you must reinforce good behaviors and discourage inappropriate behaviors.  That is not to compare your child to an animal but to make a point. They need to be taught what it means to care for others, share with them and show compassions.  Here are 5 ways to teach this social skill every day:

  • If your child has siblings, teach them that they must share with their brothers or sisters.  If possible, insist that none of the toys in the house belong to just one of them.  They are community property.  They need to take turns with the most coveted toys and share amongst themselves.  Some parents buy 2 or 3 of everything so that each kid has their own but that merely teaches them that they should get everything that everyone else gets.  It is much better to force them to share.
  • If your child is in school, encourage them to bring small gifts or treats for friends on the holidays.  This will teach them the joy of giving.  They will, hopefully, extend this idea into their daily life in simpler ways.  Perhaps they give their brother the last bite of the cake or allow their sister to use their new toy… just because they know that it will make them happy.
  • Reinforce sharing with tons and tons of praise.  Be like a hawk looking for moments to tell them “Good job!” or “Way to go” in regard to sharing.
  • Discourage selfishness.  If they are not great about sharing then you may need to use the reverse of praise.  You don’t necessarily need to punish them but you should express your disappointment in their behavior.  You can also help mediate disputes by saying that each child can have 5 minutes with a certain toy.  When their 5 minutes is up, it is up. Period.
  • Model sharing.  Show them that you share too.  Let them see you share your books with your friends, for example.  Point it out as you are doing it. “Jenny is coming over today to borrow my book.  I told her she should read it because I thought she would like it.  I feel good sharing with her.”

Kids are very simple creatures when first born.  They want food, love, shelter at birth.  Their needs and wants increase as they age.  They become more demanding, more sure of themselves and, if parents aren’t careful, more selfish and self-serving.  It’s not their fault that they are selfish.  Up until kindergarten or first grade, they aren’t particularly empathetic and they don’t understand the needs of others.  You need to teach them, each day, how and why to share.