By Ben Barer, LGSW
When a child misbehaves, it can feel like a parent fail. When your child is the one who’s biting, hitting, or screaming – or not sharing, it can be a little embarrassing.
Sharing is caring — that’s what the experts say. While sharing can be a challenge for toddlers and young children, it’s an important life skill worth teaching your little ones.
Sharing can expand social skills. Learning how to share with others can be significant as the child gets older and attends daycare, nursery school and kindergarten. Children who learn at an early age that sharing can help them connect more easily with others tend to have more friends.
Sharing can strengthen the connection between parent and child. While many parents may initially experience pushback from their child, learning how to frame things differently so that the child is more receptive to the idea offers parents insight for dealing with their child on other issues, too.
Sharing can make someone feel good. The act of sharing can provide a deeply rewarding experience on many levels. What kid doesn’t love praise and admiration from their parents?
But if your child has a hard time letting friends take a turn, what can you do?
- Be a role model. Parents can practice sharing with their child at home before putting it into practice on a playdate. You can share the couch or even talk about taking turns while playing together with one of their toys.
- Praise your child for sharing. A parent can say, “Look how happy you made Jeff when you let him play with the car.” Try drawing attention to the specific behavior that positively impacted someone else.
- Acknowledge there might be things your child does not want to share. If there’s a specific toy your child does not want others to touch, that’s fine. Putting it away before the playdate can help ease the tension.
The overall goal of sharing is to promote good feelings between children, which will lead to them learning social skills that will be vital for their growth later on in on life. The act of sharing conveys to the other person that you care about them, you are thinking of their well-being and want them to experience the same feelings that you are feeling. When children make themselves likeable, other kids want to play and interact with them. By putting this into practice now, the concept will grow as children get older and their relationships become more meaningful.
Ben Barer, LGSW, works on the Child Therapy Team at JCS.
Because children don’t come with an instruction manual, JCS offers a variety of programs, services, education and support for parents and families with children of all ages. Click here or call 410-466-9200 to learn more.