Most kids struggle to share from time to time. It can be hard for a toddler or preschooler to make sense of why it’s a good idea to hand over a toy, a crayon or a book. As you try to teach your child to have a generous spirit, you may have to back up to the beginning and explain the whole concept of generosity. With this important insight, maybe the shrieks over sharing will stop and peace will ensue.
Talk about the wants and needs of other people to instill some empathy into your preschooler. A kid who can put himself into someone else’s shoes has valuable insight about feelings and emotions that other people have. Although this takes development and practice, you can help your child become more empathetic by seizing opportunities to imagine how other people are feeling. When you see a crying little girl at the grocery store, ask your child why he thinks she’s sad. He might surprise you with uncanny insight about why she’s crying such as, “She wants to get out of the cart to run around” or “Her mommy won’t buy her that toy.”
Explain to your little one that sharing the things she has with other people is being generous. You might say something like, “When other people need or want things and we have something that we could give, we’re being generous if we share. Sharing helps other people, which makes everyone feel good.”
Explore how your child feels when someone shares with him to help him understand that generosity goes both ways. You might say, “When your sister shared her pretzels with you, I bet you were happy, huh?” Make sure your child realizes that he might be the receiver or the giver in any situation. Tell him that he’ll have lots of practice with both roles.
Describe how taking turns and playing nicely is a form of generosity. Taking turns with a toy -- letting another child use it for a period of time -- can be an excellent exercise in sharing because you can explain to your child that she’ll get the toy back shortly. Call attention to how happy a sibling or playmate becomes after your child is generous and takes turns with a toy.
Model a generous attitude as often as possible. Look for ways to demonstrate how to share with others so your kid can see generosity in action. Let someone else go in front of you in line at the store, give up your parking space and give items you don't need to charity. When your child sees you modeling generosity, he'll be likely to emulate your example.
Give positive reinforcement whenever you see your child acting generous so she recognizes the behavior you want.
- Avoid forcing your child to share, because this might create resentment. The National Network for Child Care warns that forcing kids to share may backfire with kids sharing less spontaneously without the need for prompting and encouragement.
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