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Children have difficulty sharing, especially young children. This is normal with developmental process. Knowing and accepting this is the first step in helping your child grow up to be a generous person.
The growing child develops attachments to things as well as persons. This ability to form strong attachments is important to being an emotionally healthy person. The one-year-old has difficulty sharing her mommy; the two-year-old has difficulty sharing her teddy bear. Some children get so attached to a toy that the raggedy old doll becomes part of the child’s self.
Don’t force a child to share. Instead, create attitudes and environment that can encourage your child to want to share. There is power in possession. To you, they are just toys, but to a child, they are a valuable, prized collection that has taken years to assemble. Respect the normal possessiveness of children while you encourage and model sharing.
Get connected. A child gives as he is given to. Children who have been on the receiving end of generosity follow the model they’ve been given and become generous persons themselves. Also, a child who feels right is more likely to share. An attachment-parented child is more likely to have a secure self-image. He needs fewer things to validate his self-worth.
Know when to step in. While we don’t expect toddlers to be able to share, we use every opportunity we can, to encourage taking turns. Teach your child how to communicate her needs to her friends. When a toy squabble begins, sometimes it’s wise not to rush in and interfere. Give children time and space to work it out among themselves. Stay on the sidelines and observe the struggle. If the situation is deteriorating, intervene. Self-directed learning with or without a little help from caregivers has the most lasting value.
Plan ahead. If your child has trouble sharing his toys and a playmate is coming over, ask the playmate’s parent to send toys along. Kids can’t resist toys that are new to them. Soon your child will realize that he must share his own toys in order to get his hands on his playmates’.
Protect your child’s interests as you teach them to share. If your child clings to his precious possessions, respect this attachment, while still teaching him to be generous. It’s normal for a child to be selfish with some toys and generous with others. Guard the prized toy.
Give your child opportunities to share. Oftentimes, you can teach values to your younger children by using the older children as models. In this case, both the teacher and the student got a lesson in values.
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