Google+ Authentic Parenting: Teaching Your Child To Share? (Rerun)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Teaching Your Child To Share? (Rerun)

Many a parent sighs because his/her child doesn’t share. We hammer it into them at a young age: “You have to share!”; “Give that to your sister, she can play too.”; “Don’t take that from your friend, you have to play together.” These are just a few examples of what you can hear when you are at a play date.

One day I was playing with my daughter, when she suddenly ripped something out of my hands and said: “You have to share”, and just walked away with whatever it was I was holding.
It seemed pretty strange to me that my daughter considered that sharing was giving away hat you were holding.

When I started noticing how other parents around my child handled the ‘sharing’ idea, indeed, that was it.
[Image] Image: ozjimbob on Flickr Parents would tell their child they have to share and then pull whatever their child is holding from their hands.

This really does not teach your child to share. All it does is tell them indeed they have to give away what they are holding to someone else, even if they don’t want to.

Let me in on a little secret: children don’t have to share.

If you are having trouble when your child is playing with other kids, try a different approach.

If your child doesn’t want to share a toy
Give another toy to the other child
Ask your child if he wants to give the toy to the other child
Ask your child to choose a toy for the other child
Ask your child to choose another toy for himself
Pick a game both kids can play together with a multitude of pieces so debates are limited
Propose a walk or outside game without toys

If your child refuses to play together
Don’t worry, if your child does not want to play with another child, that is an absolutely valid choice and doesn’t mean he’s antisocial. Maybe he’s just absorbed in his play, maybe he just doesn’t want to be social in that instant. There is no use in forcing your child to play together. Even playing next to another child can be an important exchange for the children.
If the diverted play of the children in your house become too difficult for you to supervise, propose another activity where they can all join in, or ask the children to play in the same room - even if they’re doing different activities. Though generally, if you can go and get a quick look every once in a while, they’re just fine when they are so consumed in their game.
Don’t let their refusal to play together throw you off having other play dates. Your child’s behavior on one occasion doesn’t predict future behavior. Don’t think your child doesn’t benefit from being around other children.

And most of all, don’t despair. Your child will share one day, if at least that’s behavior you and the other members of your family are modeling. Modeling is the biggest part of the child’s acquisition of moral skills.

Image: Stuart Miles /



  1. I've certainly worked to never force my LO to share, but what an interesting idea that children might misinterpret "sharing" to mean taking something away. Totally understandable!

  2. I LOVE this. I mean how many adults do you see sharing their laptop? Their tablet? Their cell phone? Especially with strangers!! And if a random person came up to you, jerked your phone out of your hand and declared "You have to share".... you'd call the police. Why do we expect our kids to do something we wouldn't even dream of doing!!! Yes, we share things. So will they.


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