Please know that as we begin the process of training our children to share, it will involve both close monitoring and probable intervention on our part. Remember, our children are little learners and little learners require intentional and patient teachers. But be encouraged because in the end, training our children to share now will make things significantly easier later.
We don’t only train our children to share because it’s a kind thing to do but because God has commanded us to have a heart of generosity with one another.
1 Timothy 6:17-19 says, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”
Though our children are not yet in charge of their own financial decisions, it’s good for us to begin exemplifying and training them toward a heart of generosity. It’s truly better to give than to receive! As we move forward with this in mind, it’s also good for us to remember that they are children and the learning process with be just that- a process. I mean goodness gracious- we adults still have a tough time with this whole sharing thing!
There are some things we need to keep in mind when we’re training our little ones to share…
- There is a time for sharing and a time for keeping
It’s easy to get caught up in the ‘constant share merry-go-round’, but there are certain times when children don’t need to share- and that’s completely okay! A few of these exceptional moments/situations may be:
-Favorite toys (not 20 of these, but one or two ‘specials’ are definitely okay to keep for themselves)
- When we share, we are showing kindness toward one another. So, when our children choose to share their toys, time and affection with others, it’s so important that we recognize their kind decision and praise it!
There are a few mindful phrases that can be helpful when training little ones to share…
- When we are asked or told to share by our parents/adult in charge, we listen and obey. (In this instance, we’re assuming that, as mentioned above, a child is being less than generous with his/her toys. It’s in this moment that the adult in charge would step in to make sure that all the children are able to get some play time.)
Ephesians 6:1 reminds us that children are to obey their parents because they belong to the Lord and it is the right thing to do.
When our children are asked or told to do something within the realm of safety and appropriateness, we as parents and nannies should expect 1) a listening ear and 2) an obedient body.
- If sharing and listening is proving to be too difficult and a child refuses to listen to instruction, then the specific toy or activity that is in question is now to be made unavailable for play.
If we can’t play nice and share a toy with our friends, then we can’t play with that toy at all.
After a 5 minute wait period, the toy that the child was unable to play with can be revisited by asking, “Do you think you can play with this toy and also share with your friends? You have a turn and then your friend will have a turn. Do you want to try?”
- We never take from another person’s hand.
When I use the word “take” here, it is referring to the action of grabbing or acquiring without permission from the person who is using it at that time. Usually I require that the “taker” give the object back to the other child’s hand and either 1) ask nicely to have it and wait for a response or 2) listen to his/her friends words of “No, not right now” and move on to some other activity.
- If there is a problem, ask for help. Don’t take matters into your own hands. (pushing/biting/hitting/pulling etc.)
You may notice that I often refer to things you,he,she as- ‘we’. I find that using ‘we’ is useful because it creates the expectation that we ALL are to be kind, generous and selfless. The statements with a “we'”come off less pointed and more encompassing. The standard and expectation is for all, not just the child. So, instead of saying, “Don’t hit” or “You don’t hit”, I would say, “We don’t hit people”.
Training a child to share can prove to be very trying and very trying- let’s be honest! It requires a lot of involvement as we have discussed, but in the end it does pays off. When you experience that proud moment of seeing your little one offer a toy to a child who may not have one to play with, then you’ll know it’s all been worth it! So, don’t give up and keep on reinforcing those standards of kindness and generosity, Mama and Nanny. We’re in this together!
Have a fun or encouraging story about sharing? Please SHARE by commenting below!