As we celebrate the various holidays clustered around this time of year, we can look around and see all the ways we’re lucky enough to have so much. Not only enough to survive—food, clothing, shelter—but enough to thrive.
So this is the perfect time to teach kids about the importance of sharing with those who are less fortunate. Sharing is often a difficult concept for them to grasp, however, because it goes against our natural instincts.
Teach sharing early
When teaching kids to share, it’s best to start when they’re young. About the age of two, children begin to understand the concept of “mine” and “yours.” The natural human “default” position is “mine,” because at the deepest level, possession confers power and security.
So it’s important not to force sharing, especially with prized possessions. Those can be tucked away until after their friends leave.
Positive reinforcement is important, so be sure to praise your child whenever you see them sharing their toys or snacks with their friends. The need for praise from a parent will help overcome any innate tendency to cling to their possessions.
With smaller children, one neutral way to encourage sharing and taking turns is to set a time limit. Use a kitchen timer set for two to five minutes, and explain that when it goes off, it’s time to let the other child have the toy.
It’s easier to encourage children to share when they can put themselves into another person’s shoes. So when they refuse to share a toy, ask how they would feel if their friend did the same to them.
Let us help
Our innovative Family Table Time kit for December has more ideas on how to teach the concept of sharing, along with other topics like sports, the season of giving, and acting responsibly. Each kit contains:
- an agenda for family meetings
- character-based conversation starters
- quick, easy, and healthy family recipes
- suggestions for fun family physical activities
You can try Family Table Time for four weeks completely free!