In honor of Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday.
Say thank you.
Simple rules children are taught. Some adults even need a refresher. Regardless, it can be difficult at a play group, birthday party, or at the library, for a child to understand sharing. As always, one of the best ways to teach a child something is to model it yourself. Be the person you want your son or daughter to be.
The thing is, it can be hard to teach sharing “in the moment”. At a play date, and your daughter won’t give up the teacup, even though she is playing with a puzzle. Or your son rips the cowboy vest out of someone’s hands. You can surely explain, its Mikey’s turn with the toy and your child will begin pouting, but that’s okay because you want them to understand everyone has to have a turn. But before you get to that play date, let’s work on some play share techniques at home.
Play that involves structured turn taking is a great way to model sharing. Rolling a ball back and forth, feeding a baby doll, holding the teddy, playing with the pretend hammer, mixing in the play kitchen. Almost everything you do, you can create a time to model sharing.
Proudly announce “My turn!” and pat your chest with your hand, then take a turn with the ball. You can quickly whisk away the ball from your child before he has time to react and roll it across the room. “Your turn!” and motion for your child to go get the ball. By acting quickly, and not lingering on the “Can mommy have a turn?”/puppy dog eyes, your child should barely blink over the fact that he no longer has the ball. If you ask your child if you can have a turn, chances are, he’s going to say “No.” Continue this game back and forth a few times. Eventually when you say “My turn!” your child will hand the ball over with a smile. As long as he knows he is going to get it back.
A group setting, family game night perhaps, its great to use everyone’s name, “Daddy’s turn” “Sally’s turn” “Johnny’s turn” Your child may even enjoy playing the helper who gives the toy to whoever’s turn it is.
When your child shares, or relinquishes a favorite toy, praise them! They love it! “Great job Nora, you shared the red block with Owen. What a good friend.” A hug will top it off.
If you are in a social setting and you can see tension rising over a toy, intervene. “Remember when Mommy and you shared the ball at home? First it was Mommy’s turn, then Billy’s turn, then Mommy’s turn, then Billy’s turn. Now it is Sammy’s turn and then it will be Billy’s turn!”
As children get older, help them work it out themselves.
“If you want the football, ask John if he wants to have a catch?”
or “Play with the blocks until he is finished with the football.”
Now, go play. And teach your children the importance of sharing, kindness, and compassion.