Teaching your preschooler why should we share things with others
Is it normal for your preschooler to refuse to part with their toys or grab their favourite book from a playmate? Yes! Don’t be surprised. At this age, it is typical for children to play side by side, but not necessarily with each other as they are still learning to interact socially. It’s perfectly normal for preschoolers to struggle with and fully understand the importance of sharing with friends. Sharing toys or sharing food is not something that comes to them naturally at such a young age.
At what age does a child learn to share?
At ages 3-4, they slowly begin to develop empathy and recognize the need to take turns. However, they are not mature enough to resist and manage emotions. In their little world, everything is about them, and so they tend to get impatient or upset when others come in the way. To expect your preschooler to understand how sharing works, is unrealistic. However, if given the right examples, they are sure to follow.
Why is sharing important for a preschooler?
Self-care is taught to our children by the way we take care of them. There are many benefits of sharing, and like most other skills, it takes several years to develop. So, it is never too early to start introducing the concept of sharing to your preschooler. It’s a critical skill that will teach your little one to:
- get along with others,
- care about those around them,
- take turns, negotiate, and play cooperatively,
- compromise and interact fairly,
- cope with disappointments,
- develop empathy and build other required social skills
For all these reasons and more, sharing is a valuable life lesson that we as parents must teach, practice, and encourage in our children.
The Kutuki song,‘Sharing is caring’ shows how Kutu and Ki find joy in sharing what they have with each other. To watch more such engaging content with your preschooler, download the Kutuki kids learning app.
How to teach the importance of sharing:
Like all other skills, for a preschooler to fully understand and accept the idea of sharing, they require consistent support and practice. Here are some simple ways to do just that.
- Lead by example: It doesn’t help to force your preschooler to share. Instead, create an environment of sharing that encourages them to share things. They learn from what they see around them. So model generosity at home - let them see you give, receive, compromise, and share with them and others. Be an example of what you would like to instil in them.
- Teach through play: As kids learn best through fun activities, play sharing games with them that encourage them to share and take turns. Involve them in activities like art and craft, gardening, etc. that involve sharing of resources. Rather than having them play competitive games, have your preschooler participate in games where they are required to collaborate and work together with other children.
Have your preschooler watch the Kutuki’s ‘Mine, Mine, Mine’, where little Kutu and Ki realize how everything they do becomes more fun when they share. For more such stories, rhymes, games, and songs download the Kutuki kids learning app today!
- Have a conversation: Talk to your child about why it’s important to share things. Help your preschooler understand how happy his friends would be and the fun they all would have together, if they shared. Do listen and help them explore the different emotions they feel when it comes to sharing. It is essential as it reassures your preschooler and lets them know that you understand how they might be feeling.
- Praise good behaviour: When your preschooler shares proactively or when asked to do so, remember to acknowledge and praise their actions. Pointing out good sharing behaviours by others around your little one will encourage them to emulate their actions.
- Don’t penalize for not sharing: Sharing is a learned trait, and it is important we approach it with a positive attitude. Pointing out a preschooler’s selfishness when they struggle to share or forcing them to share will have negative consequences. This will probably sow seeds of resentment in them instead of generosity. So, be easy on them - they aren’t being rude on purpose. It is important to remember that the positive reinforcement used in such scenarios should focus on the item shared, and not on the act of sharing itself.
Listen to Kutuki’s ‘Baadal, Baadal’, a story about sharing. Watch how Baadal, the cloud, is not reprimanded for not sharing his water. How instead, he learns how much more fun it is to be sharing. Check out the Kutuki kids learning app for more songs, stories, and rhymes on sharing for preschoolers.
- Time the share: Use a timer if your preschooler has difficulty in sharing. It can be an effective way of instilling discipline too in them. Set a time and let them know how long they can play/hold on to their toy, for instance. When the time is up, they will have to pass it on to their friend or someone else around. In addition to sharing and learning to share, this method will teach your preschooler valuable lessons on cooperation, taking turns, and compromise. If it doesn’t work at times, take a time-out and put the contentious item away.
- Respect & protect interests: As you encourage and model good sharing and turn-taking, it is necessary to respect their possessiveness. To you, the item that they tend to hold on to may just be toys, however for your preschooler, it’s much more. Let’s respect the ownership while still seeking their permission to allow others to use their prized possessions. Ease them into sharing if they find it difficult to let go - it’s ok to help guard them until your preschooler is ready.
In addition to addressing key learning milestones, the Kutuki early learning platform focuses on social skills like sharing. It teaches and instills these skills in preschoolers using interactive elements through a mixture of creative song and story-based curriculum recognizing that each child can have a mood and mind of their own. Through both assisted online preschool programs and unassisted, self-paced modes of learning, the platform provides preschoolers an immersive experience that prepares them for what lies ahead.
It is important to create opportunities for your preschooler to practice and learn more about sharing. Forcing them to do so will not help but rather utilize the opportunities to model giving, not just offering. Remember that there will be a phase when your little one will struggle to understand what the sharing concept means. However, this can change with regular practice and guidance. Nurturing them, with patience and a whole lot of love, the value of sharing can go a long way.