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Children & Sharing

I have a six-year-old very strong willed youngster. She can be so sweet… then she starts grabbing toys out kid’s hands, hitting and kicking. I have her on a chart, and she is doing better. However, she still has problems sharing and getting along with others.

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Perhaps one of the most common complaints that parents have about their young kids is that they find it difficult to get them to share.

Sharing is not something that is innate in a youngster and they will only learn it through your constant observation and guidance. Further more, there is a whole lot of concern about just what a youngster needs to learn how to share and when. Do they always need to share? You can help your youngster learn how to be more discerning with the sharing game if you just pay very close attention and follow some simple concepts.

DON'T EVER FORCE YOUR YOUNGSTER TO SHARE. The whole point of the exercise is lost if you have to force it. This means, don’t threaten them in any way - like telling them they will have to go home, telling them they will miss out on a treat or you will punish them. Not sharing something is a whole different ball game than being willfully mean so the outcomes should also be different.

OWNERSHIP COUNTS. In the greater scheme of things, you have to remember that ownership does really count for something. After all, you don’t go out in the world and give your cell phone, or car to a complete stranger simply because they ask. Try teaching your youngster that it is OK to refuse a request if someone asks for something that they have. This may apply to a bike or a special toy.

Of course, playground rules are a little different. If you are taking along a load of sand pit toys to the park then you may just have to try to explain to your child before you go that other kids are going to want to use them to and you will be sharing them with others. Perhaps you can help them pick out some toys that you will take along that other kids can use and something that they will use. Most importantly, involve them in the process.
If, once you get to the park and it is obvious that your youngster is simply not up to the challenge of sharing their stuff, you don’t have to turn around and come home.

There are things that you can do to help them along. A child doesn’t have the ability to look at things as rationally as you. All they know is that someone else is trying to take away their stuff. In their mind they don’t know if it will ever come back! Try saying something along the lines of, “We are going to share, which car can Johnny have? The red one or the blue one?” In this way, you are introducing the concept of sharing, THEY are making the decision (in a roundabout way) and you are doing it without aggression or force.

IF IT'S GOING TO BE AN ISSUE - LEAVE IT AT HOME! If you know that it is going to be an issue to share a special toy then try to leave it at home. Don’t expect other kids not to want to play with it and don’t expect your youngster to want to share it. Explain, as best as you can, that this is a toy for home. Trust me, other parents will appreciate it much more than you think. After all, how may times have you had to try and explain to a child why they can’t have someone else’s toy?

Above all, don’t expect too much. Sharing is not something that comes naturally and it is not something that is always warranted. Maybe what we should be teaching our kids, is to respect the property of others, that they can’t always have what they want and that it is OK to say no.

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