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Selfish Children: How to Teach Them to Share

The concept of sharing does not come easily to children especially when they are two or three years old. Children naturally come equip with the strong, built in “want” quality. Children do not want what they already have but it is instead the allure of having what other children have or what is forbidden and out of reach to them that is appealing. This is a very powerful force that drives children. Children also automatically have a strong sense of what is “mine” and in the beginning they think everything is theirs.

The concept of ownership is important to children and they feel threatened and confused when asked to share their toys with others. Immediately the possessiveness kicks into gear and they feel as if they have to defend what belongs to them.

There are ways that it is possible to encourage children to learn to share. Let’s take a closer look …

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Rules of Sharing

  • If you want to play with another child’s toy, ask the other child first and don’t just grab it from them. When you take your children to visit someone else’s house teach them to not just take what they want but to ask first (except in cases where the toy is freely offered). In the same way exercise this exact same principle in your own home- teach your kids that other children must ask for permission to play with their toys. This goes a long way in allowing a child to feel more relaxed and self-assured.
  • If someone asks you if they can play with one of your toys do not say no but give a reason or explanation. If your child chooses not to share with someone then teach them to show respect by offering an explanation or better yet, suggesting an alternative option. For example, taking turns is an excellent alternative that often works well for children.
  • The golden rule is always worthwhile to teach children in regards to sharing. Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you. This helps make children mindful when another child asks them if they could play with one of their toys. This rule is also applicable when it comes to handling the toys of others with caring and respect.

These rules are not easy to learn but even the most selfish child will learn them if they are consistently encouraged by parents and other family members. Be aware as parents however that children learn more from example than they do from mere words so make sure that what you say to them and what they see you doing coincides with each other. Make sure to teach a policy of sharing to your children from a young age and once learned, this is a policy that they will carry on into their teenage years as well as into their adult life.

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