How to Teach Your Kid to Share

How to Teach Your Kid to Share

November 20, 2019 18 By Stanley Isaacs


We want every child to be generous. But if we make kids share, they walk away
resentful, not generous. And not surprisingly, they’re
less likely to share after that. Kids aren’t developmentally ready to share before they’re five or six years old. Children under the age of five have a different sense of time than we do. The fact that the timer’s been ticking away
for five minutes seems to them like a split second. So, they don’t understand what’s happening
when we say, “You’ve had it for long enough; it’s the other kid’s turn.” We’re teaching children that if they cry
loud enough, they get what they want. That they matter
more than someone else. So it teaches kids to cling to their toys,
to be greedy. If we want children to be generous, we have
to let them voluntarily choose the experience of giving something to the other person. What if we put them in control of when they
gave up the toy? Maybe in your family you don’t want
the child to use the toy all day, so rule is that when you have a toy, you use it until the next meal. When one of the kids wants a toy, the other one says, “No, I need a long turn. I need it
until lunch time.” If the child is in charge of that decision,
when they do give the toy up, they reap the emotional gains from that. They feel generous, and they want to repeat
it. When parents hear these ideas, the first thing they think of is: “What about the child who has to wait for a toy?” Because we assume the second child is having a total meltdown. So in the
beginning, they will need adult support to wait. You hug them, you hold them. And once they
have a chance to express their feeling that life is not fair, that they don’t get what
they want when they want it, what we find is that after kids
have a chance to cry, they’re done with it. They’re not
waiting, really, for the dump truck anymore. They’re on the ground working with the snowplow. That’s actually an important part of children’s
emotional development: learning they can withstand those big emotions and they can
make it through to the other side. They can focus
on something else. And when they learn that, they become much
more resilient. Kids who are generous develop so many qualities that will help them for the rest of their lives. Imagine when those two kids grow up and they’re in a workplace, or a marriage, or simply on the street when somebody cuts somebody off in
traffic. Every relationship will benefit from them developing this ability as a child.