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5 Steps for Teaching Kids How to Share From the Heart

17 Oct 2013 – 10:08 PM EDT

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Teaching kids how to share early on in life, from a place of sincerity, will help them grow into empathetic and caring people. Here are five tips for raising compassionate and generous kids who are also willing to share without being forced.

Express Empathy

Teach kids to share by expressing empathy toward others so they can see past their self-centered nature. Make a point of making statements like, “It’s hot out! Do you think your coach would like a bottle of water, too?” or “It’s your teacher’s birthday. How about we draw her a birthday card?” In this way, you can help your child think of other’s needs and how their actions impact their world. Make it a part of your family legacy to be empathetic.

Respect Boundaries

Teaching kids how to share is important, but respecting their boundaries should also be noted. Depending on their development, some kids find sharing to be a hard task to master. Respect your child’s developmental boundaries while promoting high expectations of behavior. If your child has a very special toy with which she has difficulties parting, make that a “safe toys.” Allow your child to keep that toy for herself. Along with rules on where those toys can be taken, assure your child that she won’t be forced to share if she doesn’t want to.

Be the Solution

When your child refuses to share, try your best not to focus on her refusal. Sharing is hard, especially for young kids. Instead, prompt her to help you find another object she would willingly share with her friends. Stress the importance of being the solution and focus on her positive behavior in solving the sharing problem. Although your child might not share her treasured book, ask her to help you find another story her friends might enjoy.

Practice Makes Habit

Even adults have a hard time sharing if it’s not a part of their day-to-day behavior. Find a time in your child’s day where teaching her to share is your main parenting objective. During homework time or a designated playtime, for example, engage in a daily practice of the mechanics of sharing. Don’t wait for a heated kid spat to enforce the notion of sharing.

Generosity and Gratitude

Focus on generosity and gratitude in your parenting. Raise your children with the knowledge that, no matter what’s going on with mom’s attention or the last slice of pizza, they have an abundance of life to be grateful for and that your love is ever flowing, and you can always order another pizza. When a child has enough of what she needs, tempered with a healthy dose of gratitude, she’ll grow up with sharing as part of her nature, instead of something that’s forced.