The following post is by contributor Amanda Morgan from Not Just Cute and originally appeared in November of 2010.
All kids love sharing….as long as that means you have something to share with them! But when it comes time for these little ones to part with some valued treasure of their own, they quickly set aside their passion for equal divisions. Here are a few reasons why sharing can be such a struggle, and some simple steps that we as parents can take to ease the way.
Children are Not Developmentally Designed to Share
Three things to remember from a developmental standpoint:
1. Young children are naturally ego-centric.
They see the whole world through the lens of their own wants and desires. Giving something up because it makes someone else happy requires a very big mental leap. This means that we have to gently teach them over and over to recognize and value the feelings of others.
2. Young children are naturally seeking power.
It’s a motivating source that allows them to learn and become more proficient and independent. If sharing is presented to them as a loss of power (“You must give something up“) rather than as an opportunity to be powerful (“You can choose what or when to share”/”You can help someone be very happy“), they will naturally resist. Help children recognize the power in sharing.
3. Social skills are learned.
As is the case with social skills in general, children don’t naturally develop the ability to share. Just as they don’t wake up one day knowing how to write their own name, they won’t suddenly be able to navigate the social art of sharing on their third birthday. Be aware that sharing requires practice, which always includes mistakes along with the successes.