The growing child develops attachments to things as well as persons. This ability to form strong attachments is important to being an emotionally healthy person. Children under two like to parallel play. They enjoy playing alongside other children but not with them. They care more about themselves and their toys and not what the other child wants or feels. Given proper guidance and generosity, the selfish child can become a generous one. As children begin to play with others, they begin to see the value of sharing.
Parents should not force a child to share. Instead, they should create attitudes and an environment that encourages the child to share. To the adults, toys are merely toys. But to a child, they are the prized and valuable collection. Parents should respect the normal possessiveness of children. They themselves should encourage and model sharing. It is only then that a child learns that life runs more smoothly if they share. Children who have been on the receiving end of generosity follow the model they have been given and become generous persons themselves.
Parents should teach a child that sharing is a normal way of life and sharing spreads joy. While toddlers are not expected to share, parents can use every opportunity to encourage taking turns.
They should teach the child to communicate with their friends. When a toy squabble begins it is best not to rush in and interfere. The children should be given time to sort it out among themselves. Parents should stay on the sidelines and observe the struggle. If the children seem to be working the problem out among them it is fine but if the situation is getting out of hand parents need to intervene. Self-directed learning has a lasting value. If the situation is bad the parents may take the toy and keep it out of reach and explain to them that the toy will be there until they learn to share it. Children may sulk for some time, but sooner or later they realise that it is better to share than forfeit the toy completely. This teaches them to compromise and cooperate.
Planning ahead is another way a parent can avoid a child from squabbling with other children. If the child clings to a particular toy make sure that the toy is removed before the other children arrive. They may play with other available toys. They should be encouraged to “trade” with other toys.
Given below are few guidelines to help a child to share:
- Make sharing fun
- Do not punish stinginess
- Talk it up
- Teach the child to problem solve
- Set the stage
- Respect the child’s things
- Lead by example
Since children this age does not have the social, cognitive or language skills to be able to share, the parents should be patient and take it in their stride to teach how to share things.