Whenever we bring toys home for our three girls to play with and to give us their feedback the excitement they show make us feel like kids again. We love exposing them to toys that teach, have them acquiring new skills, take them away from spending time on their smart devices and bring them added value. But it doesn’t always go smoothly, with the excitement of a new toy comes the battle of who will play and try it out first, and who the toy belongs to.
So, what happens when siblings start fighting over toys and sharing becomes a struggle? We asked Clinical Psychologist Gus Appignagnesi to offer us some insight into kids and sharing, and as to what are some of the best ways for parents to help their kids acquire this important life lesson.
- At what age do children start understanding the idea of sharing and why?
Sharing can start as young as three. Usually by the time they attend pre-K, they should have the skill. The why, is interesting. Sharing is basically a learned skill. Children without siblings find it harder to do then those with siblings. Regardless it is a skill that has to be fostered and encouraged by parents (and/or day care workers). In general, younger children want to share, but do not necessarily know how.
- What are some of the best tips for parents to teach their kids to share?
Games are probably the best in my opinion. That can include formal type games like Snakes and Ladders, Qwirkle or Stick Six in which they have to wait their turn. Also, games that require cooperation; like building something or completing a puzzle. Art projects are also good in that they have to share materials.
Why is it important for parents to teach sharing to children?
Sharing is an essential skill to rapport building and working in groups later in school. Sharing is an invitation to openness between individuals. Sharing leads to altruism. Children with weaker skills in sharing tend to be spoiled and through tantrums when they do not get what they want. As adults they can be controlling and narcissistic in nature. Can lead to problems with friendships, relationships and working cooperatively in their careers.
- How do you deal with a child that doesn’t want to share?
Never punish. Encourage through play. Compliment when sharing takes place; especially when it’s spontaneous. Patience, but never give in to it. Naturally, the child needs to be ready. Some children under three may not be ready. However, do not wait too long and encourage through baby steps.
What is the long-term lesson we teach our kids when we teach them to share? What social skills do they gain? How will this impact them as adults?