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How to Teach Children Sharing: Avoiding Problems with Possessiveness

July 21st, 2010

Often there are problems with children sharing – sharing toys, sharing attention, sharing just about anything. A child uses the word “mine” because it helps him or her to feel so important that they are able to have actual ownership over one thing or another. “Mine” is not a problem unless the child becomes overly possesive. It is important to prevent these types of problems in the first place by teaching children sharing techniques and instilling a belief that it is just as important to give as it is to take.

First of all, it is important to let your child have some possessions of their own or it will make it that much harder to get them to share. Allow them to have their own special toys or blankets that are not taken out when company is present. Take them out only when he or she is alone and can enjoy them on their own without anyone else trying to take them away from your child. This will give your child the feeling that they have their very own territory.

Another important thing is to show them that they are not the only ones who must share. Point out any time you’re sharing a book or something to your friend. This will make sharing seem less unfair because everyone, including you, does. Also point out any time your child is sharing on their own and praise them for it. Say things like, “I’m very impressed with how well you are sharing and letting your friend have a turn with the toy.”

For children close in age it is important to always tell their toys apart from each other. Simply writing labels on the bottom of toys or on the tags can help you to not get two teddy bears confused, especially those toys the child feels specific ownership of.

Let your child know ahead of time that sharing is important. If you know that a friend of your child is coming over to play make sure and tell them they will be expected to share with them. Tell them rules of sharing like if a toy is set down anyone can play with it but if you’re still holding it then it is yours until you set it down.

It’s important to remember that sharing may not be so easy for your child at first, it will take some time for them to get use to the idea of what they own and what they do not. By age three or four is when most children become comfortable with sharing enough to do it on their own depending on how soon you teach them.