More than good manners

Sharing. It is one of those ideals that is, for the most part, universally considered to be a behavior to strive toward. But sharing isn’t always easy – especially for kids. Since we as adults sometimes struggle with sharing, it shouldn’t be surprising that children may balk when it comes to practicing what we preach.

Teaching kids to share is about much more than teaching good manners. Fostering a spirit of sharing is about teaching kids to be generous, to be accepting of others, to embrace diversity. When we teach our children to share, we are encouraging the development of skills that will help them be successful in life – skills like self-control, tolerance, effective communication and problem solving.

Here are some ideas to encourage sharing:

  1. Model the behavior. Make sure your kids see you sharing with others. This should happen both at home and away from home.
  2. Set clear expectations. Make sure your kids understand the behavior that is expected of them. Sometimes when we say “share,” we actually mean “give.” (“Shared” food is not going to be returned.) Make sure your child understands the varying degrees of sharing.
  3. Practice the language. There is a language of sharing. It begins with “please” and “thank you.” It also involves making sure your child knows how to ask someone else to share with them.
  4. Teach respect. Sharing is a skill that can be learned, and it becomes much easier as kids get older. One reason for this is that as they get older, children are better able to understand the concept of respecting others. This means they are more receptive to other people’s needs and ideas.
  5. Teach appropriate times not to share. Keep in mind that there are some things you shouldn’t expect your child to share. One of those is time with you. Put away your phone, turn off the television and get away from distractions for some time together. Another is a special toy. Create a home for it and treat it as a prized possession to be put away rather than shared.

Teaching kids about sharing means teaching kids to be generous, to be accepting, to embrace diversity – all so important to their future successes.

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