Developing the ability to share is an essential life skill. Young children naturally find it difficult to share. As a daycare provider, you can help equip the kids in your care with the tools they need to learn how to share with others.
Young children generally have the idea that they have sole rights and ownership over whatever they consider personally valuable. This principle can apply to physical objects, such as toys, books, or arts and crafts materials. It can also apply to classroom positions and privileges, such as being the line leader or getting to answer a question first during instruction time. Kids often have trouble understanding why other people should be allowed to take an object or a position that they assume belongs to them.
Cooperation is crucial to building lasting relationships with others. A child who refuses to share, especially after they’ve moved beyond preschool age, is often ostracized by peers. So how can a child learn to overcome their natural tendency to be self-centered?
Steps in Teaching Kids How to Share
1. Model Sharing in Front of Your Students
Children tend to mimic the behaviors and attitudes of those around them. When they see that you and the members of your classroom are expected to share, they may start to imitate this positive behavior.
2. Praise Positive Sharing Behavior
There’s an old adage that states, “You get what you honor.” When you as a daycare provider notice a child displaying good sharing behavior, you can praise that child in front of the rest of the kids. Some of the other children will often begin to follow suit.
3. Make Sharing Fun
Just as Mary Poppins in the famous P.L. Travers novel-turned-classic-film made tidying up the nursery into a game, smart daycare providers can turn the concept of sharing into a game. Come up with a set of objects that students will take turns using throughout the course of the game, such as different colored blocks, cars, or action figures. Have set times throughout the game when kids are expected to exchange objects with each other. You can also teach your daycare kids catchy songs about sharing.
4. Engage in Class Discussions about Sharing
While some children learn indirectly through role-playing, songs, and games, other children learn best by direct instruction. Plainly tell the children in your daycare that you expect them to share. Demonstrate examples of sharing in front of the class to help them understand the concept.
5. Incorporate Negative Consequences When Children Refuse to Share
After you’ve already explained and demonstrated sharing, give a child who won’t share a warning. Tell the child that if they still refuse to share, they will face a certain consequence. It makes sense if the consequence involves temporarily losing out on the privilege to use the object the child refused to share. For example, if Sarah won’t share the red ball, she will lose the right to play with it for a certain amount of time. After that time period is over, give her another chance to use the ball so you can see if she learned her lesson.
For most kids, developing the empathy needed for consistent sharing will come with age and maturity. As you teach about & model good sharing behavior, offer praise when you see progress, and patiently administer correction, then you should begin to see your daycare children grow in their sharing abilities.