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When my youngest was four years old, she became very possessive about her toys. She is eight now, and sharing is no longer a major issue. But every day I get calls from frustrated, confused and embarrassed mothers asking me how their child will learn to share.
What's a parent to do when a child refuses to share a toy with her sibling or friend? Let's answer this question by first looking at what not to do.
4 Common Mistakes in Teaching Children to Share
1. Never force a child. What do you think a child learns when a toy is snatched away from him and given to another child? Imagine for a moment that your boss walks into your office, grabs your laptop off your desk, then turns around and gives it to a coworker. Is there any reason to assume that this would inspire in you a desire to share? Aren't you in fact more likely to become tightfisted? As the most influential person in your child's life, you can teach the values that lead to sharing without forcing them upon her.
2. Don't force older kids to share with younger ones. Younger kids want to be like their older siblings. When my eldest daughter is playing with a ball, her younger brother and sister want the ball, the pen, the book, the toy, whatever it is that she's playing with. But is it fair to expect my daughter to give her younger siblings a turn just because they want one? Sometimes we forget that the flip side of sharing is respect. Teaching siblings to respect another's space is as important as the generosity of spirit we want to instill in them.