Preschool is an exciting time for a child. They develop many of the life skills they will need throughout their school career and beyond. Preschool is a time when children learn to interact with others of their own age and learn what behaviors are appropriate and acceptable. Children learn how to compromise, how to wait their turn, and how to share. Teaching a child to share can be a difficult task, but there are some things parents can do to help prepare a child for sharing and cooperation. Adrian Kulp, author and blogger of Dad or Alive, suggests using repetitive and positive reinforcement. He is teaching sharing to his children by allowing children to understand their role in the sharing process. It is important to help children understand the idea of fair play- that each child should get a turn with the new or favorite toy. Kulp believes it is important to help children work through any frustrations they have while watching another child play with the toy or object by reminding them that the toy is not going anywhere and soon it will be their turn again.
Gila Brown, child development specialist, warns against always forcing children to share because she believes that children who are forced into sharing will react by holding onto their items more tightly for fear of losing them. She believes it is essential that parents can distinguish between authentic generosity and forced sharing. She believes that forcing a child to share their personal things is disrespectful because as adults we are not forced to share our things but do so by choice out of generosity. Brown does believe in establishing space for generosity, but does not believe forcing a child to share is beneficial in the long run.
These are two distinctive approaches to teaching preschoolers to share. Kulp believes that teaching children to take turns is beneficial for their long-term success in developing cooperative habits. Brown believes that instilling the idea of generosity in our children is more effective than simply making them share a toy. But Kulp also believes that you need to help your child work through their frustrations about sharing and understand their feelings attached to the item. Therefore, a combination of dealing with children’s frustration over objects while also instilling in them a sense of generosity may be the most effective way to teach sharing to preschoolers.