The phrase ‘sharing is caring’ is one that is voiced often to little ones. From school to home to church and virtually any other setting, you hear the echo of this phrase. So what exactly does it mean to a 3, 4, or 5 year old? Not much. Basically it means (to them that is), ‘I have to give up what I have in the hopes that the other person recognizes that I care?’ Yes, trying to teach your little one that sharing really does mean that you care will be interesting at best. Especially when you are dealing with an individual who thinks the world revolves around them.
However, it is not impossible. And since we are in the season of giving, this may be a great time to explore this concept in depth. As with anything you try to teach children, it will take time and repetition. In light of this, here are 3 ways to teach children how to share.
1. Arrange a playdate– begin by inviting a neighbor, classmate, or other over for a playdate. This is a great opportunity to have your child experience having to play with others outside of school. This is especially if the child does not have any siblings or extended family members nearby.
2. Model the behavior — Children learn from what we do. So if your child sees you sharing your food, etc. they will likely pick up the habit as well. Most of all, if you share some of what you have with them and verbalize this, the concept hits home.
3. Make time to help others in need—volunteering is such a wonderful and rewarding experience. Why wouldn’t we want to expose our children to that? Next time you take a trip to the toy store, have your child pick out a toy to donate to your local charity. Better yet, for every toy they put on their Christmas list, they have to donate one from home. Another opportunity is to take your child to feed the homeless. Sharing your time with others by doing something kind.
In any event, whatever you choose, I promise it will be a learning experience for you and your child. You will have to be the catalyst. So make it happen!