Sharing is a necessary skill that needs to be nurtured, fostered and learned in every child. Sharing is not something that comes naturally to children. You, as their caregiver, can nurture the development of this skill in your child. To help you teach your child the importance of sharing here are some developmental stages to look for:
8 to 12 months
Infants willingly share their food and toys with their parents. They do this because they love to interact with you and want to keep that interaction going. They will also share their toys with other children and will often not react if another child takes a toy from them. At this age they do not yet understand the feeling of ownership.
12 to 24 months
Children at this age willingly share their toys with other kids and they have learned this way to start and maintain play with other kids. Their generosity usually peaks around 20 to24 months and after that will sharply decline unless parents take the initiative to teach the concept of sharing. From about 20 to 24 months the concept of self-awareness comes into play and they see themselves as a separate being from others. This is often when parents begin to hear the word… MINE.
24 to 36 months
Around this age kids will share if asked to by a parent or they see a direct benefit of sharing something with another person. The benefit is often that they realize they need to share to keep the interaction going with another child or a scolding will be coming if they do not. Depending of the temperament of your child the sharing will be an easy exchange or with the difficult child a much more stressful encounter.
Parent can help by modeling the idea of sharing, by using praise and by making positive suggestions. Bribery is a technique that should never be used as it only creating more confusion and conflict going forward. They should be learning the intangible rewards of sharing and interaction rather than a expecting a “reward” for following instructions.
Along with sharing young children will need to learn the skill of showing empathy and kindness to others. Here are some tips on teaching empathy to your children which will benefit them throughout their entire life.
Reference Material: Baby Hearts: A Guide to Giving Your CHild an Emotional Head Start by L. Acredolo