Teaching Kids to Share: How to Master the Art of Sharing

Lying or deluded. These are the parents who tell you that their kids always share everything happily!

I’m trying my absolute hardest as a parent. Some days I nail it (at least once a year) and some days I’m the hot mess mum in the Instagram memes. *sigh*

If you feel like your kids struggle to share no matter what you do, you’re not alone. We’ve been working over and over (ground hog day much?!) on the same issue for years now and we’ve sometimes had a little success, so here are some of my top tips on teaching kids to share:

1. Don’t make them share (everything)

Seems strange right? A friend pointed out to me one day that even as adults, we don’t share all of our valuables.

You want to borrow my engagement ring? Nope. Take home the Liane Moriarty novel that I’m half way though? Heck no! Come into my bedroom and poke around through my personal possessions? Again….no chance.

So why do we insist that small children give up the items they feel equally as attached to?

Kids need some sacred space and some possessions that are just for them, so before we have any playdates at our place, I check if my kids are cool with the kids who are coming, going into their rooms and if not, the play date is outside/in the lounge room.

Following right on from this, anything special not wanting to be shared gets put away (flaunting the new most spectacular Barbie and not sharing her is the 5 year old version of “check out what I got at Myer on the 75% off rack” right? Envious doesn’t begin to cover it!). Toys that are ‘for everyone’ are then put in the lounge room and regular sharing rules apply!

2.  Let them go for it

They might share beautifully but odds are that 3.72 seconds in there will probably be a teachable moment. Once there’s a meltdown over said Paw Patrol item/favourite Shopkin/red block 1 of 300 … give your poppet a chance to make a great choice and communicate, communicate, communicate!

By asking them would they like to share, some of the power struggle is removed and the child will realise they have a choice. If they choose to share, unreal. If not, I use lines like, “Wow. That’s sad you are choosing not to share, but it is your choice. It just means that people might not want to share their things with you.”

When little Johnny doesn’t want to share two minutes later, the sting of this can really help your little one with next time choices. Don’t give in here and insist that he be shared with. Keep communicating about how this feels in a calm and loving but firm voice, and some of the understanding might start to resonate.

3. Teach your kids the art of negotiation

But keep an ear on the gig. Swapping two 5c coins for one $2 coin isn’t okay in our house, BUT given their heads and a few years of practice, our kids are now often okay at a good negotiation.

Counting while the other person has their turn then swapping, or you can have it before lunch then I’ll have it after lunch, or let’s play with it together are all good examples of what you could initially suggest but kids will eventually start coming up with themselves.

I’ve also been pleasantly surprised at their imaginative little ways of sorting out option C when A and B haven’t worked.

4.  If all else fails, distract them

If emotions are too high, just distract and come back later. It’s possibly just me but there may be one or two moments over the last oh … forever, that I am not my most rational self. At these times, I can’t listen well, I can’t learn and I’m certainly not good at putting others first. So if it’s all just a bit much, lets all get distracted and have another go at sharing later!

Sound easy?! On paper it seems simple but through lots of practice, some days my kids are getting okay at sharing.

divider-3That being said though, I’m not lying or deluded. There are days when I take whatever it is off both of them, send them out to the trampoline and try and skull a cup of lukewarm tea. Here’s to the privilege of having kids to love while our tea goes cold.

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Part time teacher, part time counsellor, full time mum, wife and socialiser, Liz Giovas enjoys squeezing every bit of fun out of life. Writing about and speaking on many topics including parenting, relationships and family life, she regularly has a funny tale to tell or a challenge to propose. In her spare time when she's not reading, or hanging out with her family, Liz enjoys dragging good friends along in the search for the perfect cup of coffee.

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