Teaching children to share with sharing activities is often not easy because of one simple reason. Children’s brain just doesn’t work the same way that the adult brain does.
A mother of three children, Catherine, once asked me – “how can I teach my children to share? It is a nightmare when they starting fighting over everything”, - she added.
Children are precious, they are, undoubtedly, the best things in our lives. And we all want to be proud of them even from a very young age. Some parents get embarrassed when children don’t share at the playground or with their brothers and sisters at home. But what is behind children’s unwillingness to share?
Teaching Toddlers To Share - Is It Possible?
As an Early Childhood Educator, I learned that children feel different about sharing than we do. Multiple studies suggest that toddlers are unwilling to share because the area of the brain that is responsible for empathy, sympathy, and feelings for others - prefrontal cortex might not be developed enough at this age. Therefore, toddlers’ refusal to share is normal and completely justified.
Why Preschoolers Have Difficulty Sharing?
Preschoolers might still have difficulties sharing because children at this age are often egocentric. The paradox is that toddlers and preschoolers think that the feelings that they have are exactly what other people’s feelings are. They see the world through the eyes of their own desires and needs. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your child is selfish or self-centered.
As Piaget, a Swiss psychologist explains, egocentrism is normal for all children of this age. It helps children to learn about their body, behavior, and feelings, and differentiate themselves from others eventually.
Should You Be Teaching Your Children To Share?
Researchers suggest that children are able to voluntarily share at about 7-8 years of age. However, teaching children to share and initiating sharing activities with your child, even without immediate results, could lead to him/her being much more willing to help and share with others in the future.
How To Teach Children To Share With Fun Sharing Activities?
Treasure Hunt Sharing Activity For Preschoolers
Materials: cookies, candies, fruits, chocolates, gummy bears, etc.
- You need at least two people for this game. It can be you and your child or your child and his/her friends.
- Get your child’s favorite cookies, candies, fruits and chocolates in a bag. Depending on the number of players each player should get one of each item. So, if you have just two players – get two cookies, chocolates, fruits, etc.
- Hide the bag of goodies somewhere in the house and create a map of how to find it. Leave various tips around the house of where the treasure can be.
- When the treasure is found tell your child that it needs to be equally divided between people who were searching for it.
Funny Paper Puppets Sharing Activity For Toddlers
Materials: paper bags, scissors, crayons, markers, crystals - all materials for making paper bag puppets
- Take one paper bag for yourself and one for your child.
- While making paper bags puppets put all materials in the middle.
- Ask your child to share materials with you. Praise him/her when they are sharing and let them know how great it makes you feel.
- This approach is great for helping young children to learn about the feelings of other people. You can use it during almost any children's activities and reading games with your child.
“Sharing is caring”, goes a famous saying! Even if your child has difficulty sharing now, sharing activities conducted at a young age could help your child to become much more empathetic and outgoing in the near future.