Sharing is a great skill for children to learn, but it can be difficult to teach. Here are five ways to encourage your kids to share their toys.
Don’t Force Them
Forcibly taking your child’s toy away to give to a sibling or friend will likely be met with tears. Toddlers simply don’t have the capacity to understand why you’re taking it away, and they also may think you’re giving it away forever.
Instead, encourage your children to take turns. Setting a timer can help keep things fair. This way, they know that the toy will return to them in just a little while.
Put Up Their Special Toys
Let your child know that it’s okay to have items that they don’t want to share. When having friends over, help your child put any of these special toys away. Teaching your children these boundaries will also help them respect their siblings’ special toys. Furthermore, it will teach them how to verbalize their needs, reducing sibling arguments and tears.
Focus on Positive Reinforcement
Positive feedback is more impactful than negative feedback, even for adults. Imagine how much truer this is for children! Little ones do best when their parents reward positive choices more than they punish negative ones. Therefore, encourage kind actions with verbal affirmation and reassuring touch.
Encourage Their Empathy
Like many things, empathy needs to be fostered. Ask leading questions such as, “How do you think your friend feels right now?” or, “How would you feel if that happened to you?” Questions like these will help your child think about their friend or sibling in a new light and can lead to them making more empathetic choices in the future.
Introduce Toys Designed for Sharing
Some toys and games are specifically designed with two or more kids in mind! These options are great to have around for playdates or fun afternoons with siblings. Some examples include outdoor toys—such as frisbees—or multiplayer board games—such as Candy Land.
Big toys, such as basketball hoops, trampolines, or ride-on cars, also naturally lend themselves to sharing. Two-seater cars like these power wheels with touch screens make it easy for both kids to go for a spin together, encouraging sharing.
These five ways to encourage your kids to share their toys can certainly help, but the most important thing is to be patient. Remember, every kid develops at their own pace. Just providing the support and tools they need to learn skills such as sharing will help them get there eventually.