When he was two and a half years old and his little brother was just about six months old, my eldest son will always shout and yell for every of his playing items touched by his little brother. “Don’t touch my toy”, “leave it”, “it’s mine!”….. I actually cannot count the number of times I’ve heard him shout at his little brother in these tones. At first, when I intervened, I only tried to make the atmosphere peaceful by withdrawing his toys from his brother and gave them back to him, then find his brother something else to play with. Yet again, he’ll find a way to take those things from him and this is where my worries began.
Although he often shares his meal, cookies, and toys with me and his dad, when it comes to his brother, his few friends and outsiders, he finds sharing tricky and rather prefers to compete with them. Then I begin to ask myself, is this normal behaviour in all children of his age or is it that he has an over-possessive behaviour? Will he outgrow this behaviour? If this is normal, how can I educate him that he’ll understand that sharing is a good thing? Then I began to study him carefully and started reading books on how to imbibe the spirit of sharing in him.
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To my success, he is now 4 years old and his little brother, 2 years old. Not only do they share what they have with each other, family, and friends but they also have empathy for their friends when they are in need. How do they change so much? I really cannot tell what specifically brought about this positive change, although their current age/maturity could be a contributing factor. However, being matured does not automatically translate to inculcating good habits, it is the teachings and lessons from parents while growing up that contributes greatly to a child’s good manners.
I know so many parents are experiencing this issue with their kids as well, so I will like to share with you ways or methods you can adopt to help educate your children and imbibe in them the spirit of sharing with family, friends, or anyone in need.
Set a good example
The first method to adopt in educating your child is to set a good example in everything you do. Virtually every child learns by imitation, they all tend to emulate what they see you doing. So let your child witness it when you give out something to people or share with neighbours. Share with him and his siblings your ice cream, cookies, meals, and your material things. You can offer him your writing pad to write and learn with and ask him if you can put on his superman’s jacket. Use the word “share” and exhibit sharing often at home and let him see the good in it when you do so.
This could also be done by taking your child to needy homes. This will expose them to how sharing and giving are being done.
- Don’t use abusive words
It is normal for every child to be possessive over there things even over someone else’s. I have witnessed a scene where a child is trying to forcefully play with his mate’s toy. The mother of the child felt embarrassed and started raising abusive words on him. On the other hand, the child with a toy was scolded by his mum for not being generous to share with his playmate. This will not help either of the children as they will only learn that giving and taking the result to conflicts between families. Words of encouragement better do the trick. This brings me to the third point.
- Encourage your child to share
Some kids have the spirit of sharing in them, but only require words as well as deeds of encouragement to exhibit it. So patronize your kids with good words and calm tone, this will motivate them to share their things with family and friends. I could remember a time when my four years old child asks me “JT (what he calls me), why do you call Bestie(what he calls his dad) superhero”. I replied, “because he’s always there to help me with everything I do and also because he shares everything that he owns with me”. Seizing the opportunity, I went further to tell him that he will be called a “superhero” when he’s always willing and ready to share his belongings with people in need. I saw a joyful expression in his face which I translated to success on my part in motivating him to share with family and friends.
- Praising your child whenever he shares
Of course, kids love to be praised when they do good things. Praises motivate them to do more of the good things over and over again. Whenever your child shows a level of generosity, no matter how small, praise him for it and let him know how well the other party appreciates his good deed of sharing.“Did you see how happy Billy was when you cracked the puzzle together”, “that’s very good of you”, “mummy is so proud of you”…..praising words like these are good educators as well as motivators in making your child imbibe the culture of sharing with the needy.
- Engage your child in a collaborative task
This method may also seem very effective. Whether with his siblings or friends, give him tasks for which he can only achieve with supports. The success of the tasks will instil in him the goodness and benefits of cooperative work and thus appreciates the act of sharing.
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- Narrate stories of generosity
Tales of generosity may also go a long way in helping you instil the act of sharing in your child. It is believed that kids place so much trust in stories told to them by elders, so parents may take advantage of this opportunity to educate their child about being generous. Fun-filled tales of generosity with a happy ending and one that clearly supports your notion will be a good effect.
- Talk about sharing
Even though all other methods speak in their way, there are times you need to sit your kid down and discuss with him how the table turns in life. Talk and make him understand that one cannot have everything they desire in life, there are times you rely on others for your need. So it is only when you give today that you can receive it from others tomorrow. Share with your friends what you have today so that they can share with you when it’s your turn. As the parent, while talking to your child, bear in mind not to sound harsh as this will generate fear in his mind and unfortunately won’t comprehend anything said. Be as calm as possible and make the conversation lively and fun.
I will like to stop here. However, ways to educate your child to share is not exhausted. Indeed, there are many more ways different from the ones listed above that many of you as parents may have adopted in this regard. Please feel free to drop your comments and more suggested ways in the comments box.
Thank you for reading and don’t forget to share! 😉