January is resolution month, February is Friendship. Friends share, and helping kids learn sharing skills is an important part of making and having friends.
We all recognize how sharing is a critical piece of relationships but it’s not easy to see how complicated it can be. When babies and young toddlers first start sharing, they get the first action of offering a toy or a bite of a cookie to us, but not the next. They hold on to the item and quickly take it back. Sharing is not only giving, it’s also letting go. Not only is their more than one aspect to the action, the letting go part is really hard to do.
Our example is one of the behaviors kids will imitate in learning to share. Children need a model to follow. We can talk about what we are thinking and say we are really enjoying a cookie and you know someone else might like a piece too. It helps kids to hear how we decide to share or not.
Not sharing needs different strategies. Kids need words, such as, “I’m still using this. You can use it when I’m done.” They also may want to ask someone to share with them. “I’d like to play. We can share. You have some and I’ll have some,” are good words to know. This can be as simple as 4 words, “Play too. Share please,” for young toddlers.
When kids are sharing, a positive comment or two reinforces their choice. You might say, “You are sharing with your friend. Your friend appreciates that.” This acknowledges the action.
Books and stories are another great resource. One Little Sister loves is Mo Willems story, Should I Share My Ice Cream? Elephant has an ice cream and debates whether or not to share with his friend Piggie. The problem has an unexpected solution. There are many other great books about sharing. You can also make up a story of your own. Maybe a fork and spoon have to share dessert. How might they work it out?
Early childhood is all about learning and play. Kids need opportunities to learn and develop the skills they need for interacting with others. These happen in play and real-life experiences. What do you do for helping kids learn sharing skills?