If you’ve ever raised a child, you know that there is a selfish stage. During this stage what’s theirs is theirs, what’s yours is theirs, and what’s not theirs is also theirs. Not wanting to share is completely natural. In fact, younger children haven’t fully developed the concept of object permanence, so they may assume that their toy is gone forever.
Practicing turn-taking will help develop the idea of sharing for your child. Set a timer for equal intervals for turns. This process will help you reassure your child that their toy will be returned to them. It also helps them understand how to be patient and wait for their turn.
Praise your children whenever they share, especially without your guidance. Use specific, detailed praises, so that they know exactly what they are being praised for. Rather than saying: “You’re so nice,” tell them: “sharing that dinosaur toy with Tom made him very happy. That was very nice of you.”
Be a Role Model
Your children idolize you. Model the habit of sharing. Your child learns many of their behaviors from you. If you show them that you are willing to share, they will also be more inclined to share.
Avoid Labeling Possessions
Don’t tell your children that something is yours or theirs. Call the object by a neutral name, like “the dinosaur toy” or “the chair.” Try to make toys communal, rather than belonging to any specific person. This can help prevent squabbles over possessions.
Not sharing is completely natural. It doesn’t mean that your child is bad or selfish; it is a totally normal response. Luckily, sharing is something that is established with practice. The more your children play with other children, the more thoroughly they will learn how to share. Soon enough, your child will learn that playtime is more fun when they share with their friends!