“Sharing” is a hot topic these days. At the end of the day, we adults all want the same thing. We want children to be kind, generous, and compassionate. We want our children to be good people and want them to respect their time, their space, and their work.
Before we dig into phrases and approaches that might be helpful in facilitating the “art of sharing” (and it is an art), take a moment to consider a typically developing young child’s perspective: “If I want it, it is mine. If I had it, it is mine.” Now that you're in the mindset, let's go! This post includes Phrases to Encourage Sharing. I hope you find these phrases and approaches to encourage sharing helpful in your home and classroom.
Learning to share is one of the tough early lessons for children, especially toddlers, in my experience. There is hope, though! Carefully observe children around the age of 3 or 4. You will notice they begin to understand what it means to take turns and trade materials. Soon enough you will begin to see cooperation and, gasp, even a willingness to share with their friends.
As I am sure you agree, we want our children to have respect for themselves and those people in their lives. So, when it comes to sharing, my husband and I don’t force it. If my child is playing beautifully with a truck, I want him to complete that experience. Either he will be done with the independent experience, or he will conclude that playing with others, or allowing others time with the truck is worthwhile.
Okay, for the most part, us adults share well. We could always use a little practice, right? Modeling with your co-teachers or your partner at home is huge. Say the words out loud so that the child can hear your interaction. Use polite words (how often we adults forget to say “please” and “thank you”!) and make eye contact.
Empathize and Acknowledge that Sharing isn't Easy
When was the last time you reacted well when someone came up and grabbed the sunglasses off the top of your head? or better yet that book you were in the middle of reading? Bottom line, sharing isn't easy! Let your child know that you understand that part of the puzzle.
Instead of dreading every “sharing” potential interaction, look at it as an opportunity for your child to practice. Practice makes perfect. The more opportunities a child has to use words that enable sharing and to feel the feelings (good and bad!) that go along with the sharing, the better he will get at sharing!
Phrases to Encourage Sharing
- “When you’re done, may I have a turn?”
- “I’d like time with that truck/puzzle/toy.”
- “How much time do you think you need? Let’s set a timer.”
- “I noticed Jack is using that material right now. Why don’t you let him know you’d like to use that material? Ask him to let you know when he is done so that you know it is your turn.”
- “You have tears. You are upset. You want to play with the truck. Ask Emma when she’ll be done with the truck. Would you like me to come with you?”
Montessori & Sharing
This post is inspired by Montessori. There is a reason Dr. Montessori specified that only one of each material be available in the classroom at one time. As we all know, she emphasized the idea of respect and placed great importance on social intelligence. For Maria, though, being “social” or “socially inclined” was not about being the most popular child on the playground. Being socially intelligent is about learning respect in relation to your peers.
So, for example, respecting your classmate’s workspace and time. In other words, if a child is using the pink tower and another child wants to use the pink tower, respecting the former child’s time in using that material. Being social is so much more than people liking you. That point alone is worth a child knowing, understanding, and accepting.
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