“This is mine!”

“Miss, he doesn’t want to share his toys”

“Miss, she always keep her toys!”

This word sound familiar, especially for preschool teacher. Not only at school, parents also meet this situation at home when their child doesn’t want to share the toys with their sibling or peers. Why these things can happen? Sometimes children will have different interpretation of what it means to share because of what their families have taught them. Based on my observation in school from toddler until preparation class, not all children shown that they have difficulties to share their toys. Some of kids can play toys together and also can take turn with friends. It’s shown to us that sharing at these age it is not impossible to do. Maybe some of child will feel very difficult to learn how to share, but in the end they have to know that sharing is important things in the life and part of social skill which have to be developed because it related to how they making friends in the future. Toddlers and children need to learn how to make and keep friends and also play cooperatively.

If you find your children seems difficult to share something, you need to pay more attention. Even sometimes the word ‘share’ can be confusing for the children. Parents often use it to describe different situation that actually bear little resemblance to one another. For example, asking your children to share a blanket, where he doesn’t have to take turn or give anything away is very different from sharing a toy, which mean taking turns or sharing a cookie, where your child has to give half or it away and doesn’t get half back. That’s why important for parents to recognize the situation and adjust expectation accordingly.

Santrock, a developmental psychologist, said children under 4 years old is on self-centered stage. They do not understand the different between sharing a thing or giving that thing to other. That’s why the idea of sharing and taking turn must be thaught by example, guidance and repetition. So how we can teach them sharing is good? Althought it won’t happen quickly, these are steps you can take to help them children learn to share and develop compassion and generosity. Here is a few tips:

  1. Be a role model. As a parents, your child will be look into you first about how to share. Gary Thomas said on his book “Sacred Parenting” having child means affect their life too. They just copy our habits as their parents. That’s why very important to be good role model for our children. At home, you can find many situation that can can help you to show them about it. Example when you and your partner are together, make it a point to do some sharing. FYI, especially children three years old are great imitators and observers! Beside with your partner, you can also share with your child in your own interaction. For example at snack time, say “Let’s share this piece of cake. Here’s a slice for you and here’s one for me”. Or when you play building tower with blocks with them, say “Here, you take turn and put this one on, then I’ll put one on. We’re sharing the blocks”.
  2. We also can use story from the book or puppet to teach them about sharing. Take time with your child. Read books or make a story with puppet about character who are sharing (or not sharing). Talk about the emotions of the characters and ask children what the characters could do to solve their problem.
  3. Praise when your child does share. Not just only said “You’re a good girl,” but you can say something like “Did you see smile on Adriana’s face when you gave her the dolls? She really liked that”. This way can help your children too to know what others feeling when they can share something.
  4. Encourage perspective taking. Help them to seeing through another person’s eyes. For example when they start argue over something, ask them ,”how do you think she feels when you won’t let her play with you?” or “how do you feel when someone won’t share their snack with you?”. This way can help children to caring relationship with others, so in the future sharing will become natural and comfortable things to do.
  5. Sharing on toddlers, preschoolers and school-aged children will be different. For toddlers, they believed thy’re the centre of the world and that everything belong to them. So consequences for not sharing are not likely to help your toddlers learn about sharing. Encouragement and practice are likely bring a better results for them. Preschoolers children most have basic idea about sharing, but sometimes they can be impatient to take turn. You can build your preschooler’s sharing skills by watching for good turn-taking, encouraging fairness and explaining about sharing. For school-aged children, who older than toddlers and preschoolers, we have to teach them to be more patient and tolerant than they used to be. They will also be keen to do the right thing and can form more complex relationship, which really helps with the idea of sharing. Practice sharing lots at school can help them too.

Sharing is caring. Teaching our children to share is teaching them compassion and love (Kevin Heath)

By : Audy Ayu Arisha Dewi, M.Psi, Psikolog