Let's rethink this rule...
From the early days of my own childhood, I remember the phrase "sharing is caring” being said throughout playdates, family gatherings, & classroom lessons. For many of us, these words became a guiding principle handed down by well-intentioned adults hoping to shape us into kind, giving individuals.
The intent behind this familiar mantra is undeniably pure: to cultivate a spirit of generosity in the upcoming generation. Yet, as we delve into the intricate tapestry of child psychology & behavioral development, we find that the landscape of sharing is far more complex than this simple adage suggests.
Indeed, sharing is a positive & valuable social tool — but forcing kids to share (or punishing them for not sharing) disregards their autonomy & feelings.
The method presented here seeks to reframe our perspective. Instead of viewing sharing as a mandated act, this framework champions the belief that choice & understanding should be at its core. Essentially...
...to learn sharing, kids need C.H.O.I.C.E.:
#1 - Communication Skills
Encourage children to talk about their feelings & make requests. Instead of impulsively taking or grabbing, guide them to understand the power of asking or even negotiating. This fosters effective communication, promotes mutual respect, & imparts valuable life skills, including empathy & a sense of agency in interpersonal interactions.
#2 - Hands-On Experiences
Organize playdates or games designed for collaboration. In these settings, children experience the dynamics of give-&-take firsthand. By allowing them to navigate these situations on their own, they learn the nuances of sharing & the value of mutual cooperation, all while building essential social skills organically.
#3 - Open Dialogue
When a child resists sharing, take a moment to ask why & genuinely listen. Understanding their perspective without judgment fosters open communication. It provides insight into their emotions & helps address any concerns or anxieties they may have about sharing, creating a space for mutual understanding & empathy in resolving sharing dilemmas.
#4 - Independence
Respect their need for personal space by allowing them to have possessions they don't share. This reinforces a sense of independence & ownership while also providing opportunities for kids to learn about boundaries. Kids learn that while sharing is admirable, they (& others) have control over certain belongings, fostering autonomy & responsibility.
#5 - Celebration
Make an effort to recognize & applaud moments when kids willingly share, highlighting the joy & positive impact of their choices. This positive & proactive approach not only fosters genuine generosity, but also reinforces the value of making independent, empathetic decisions.
#6 - Examples
Children closely observe & often emulate adults. By actively showcasing the genuine joy & fulfillment in giving & sharing, adults can provide a compelling, silent lesson. It's not just about telling them; it's about embodying the values of generosity & kindness, demonstrating that true giving comes from a place of love & joy.
Instilling empathy in children is a process. Be patient as you teach them the value of genuine kindness.
For a free one page quick-reference sheet, click HERE.
Looking for even more support?
Download Sharing is a Choice — a guide specifically designed to help you instill generosity and prosocial skills in your children.
This 24-page PDF will guide you through 30 simple, adaptable strategies to teach your children to share, all while instilling empathy & prosocial skills. Using a memorable 6-step framework, you will be able to navigate the nuances of nurturing generosity with ease & effectiveness.
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