5 Reasons Why I Don’t Make My Kid Share, and How I Encourage Kindness Instead
Teaching kids how to be kind is something that I am fairly certain most parents want for their kids. Once preschoolers hit their possessive stage, teaching kids the art of sharing can feel difficult. However, ownership is an important part of child development.
When another child comes to ask to play with a toy that belongs to our child, it is almost natural for moms to tell our kid they need to share. However, this is something I consciously try not to do!
Here are 5 reasons I don’t make my kid share, and what I do instead!
1. I want him to be sincerely kind and generous- so I catch him being good.
I want my kid to WANT to share, and I believe that letting him choose to do so freely will encourage sharing.
Kindness is natural for children- cheer this trait on. Teaching kids how to be kind actually isn’t hard at all if you can catch them being good.
Giving feels good, and there is a reason for this: when we give graciously, we invite abundance into our lives. Help them hold on to that loving feeling by identifying it, and praising it.
Ideas for encouragement:
“That was so kind.”
“You are so good at sharing.”
“That made your friend so happy.”
Children are innate givers. They have so much love to share. Your gratitude for their love is magnetic and will encourage more kindness, gratitude and love.
2. I want him to learn how to be kind as well as have healthy boundaries- so I try to respect his “no.”
Teaching kids how to be kind is important, and boundaries are an important skill too! In fact, the two go together quite nicely when we remember to encourage authenticity. Boundaries keep your child safe, teach respect, and help your child give from a genuine place.
Around two years old, children start to develop ownership over what is theirs: their body, and their things, and yes, sometimes they start to feel ownership over other people’s things as well. This is actually a very important part of child development.
If you can show respect toward what is theirs, you can more easily teach them to respect what is not theirs. Teaching kids what is theirs, what is yours, and what is ours, helps them understand the idea of ownership and respect for others.
What is theirs?
We want to empower our kids to have ownership over their own bodies. This will help them learn to make decisions about their body that are in alignment with their feelings and empower them to say “no” to unwanted touch.
Tickling is one of my favorite examples for honoring a child’s “no” when it comes to their body. Tickling is usually given with love, but if it makes a child uncomfortable, show respect for their body and honor their “no.” This will set your child up to feel empowered when it comes to their own body!
Making a child share their things can also cause confusion about boundaries. Their things were a gift to them or earned by them and they belong to them.
Honor their “no.” Over time, this will decrease possessiveness because there is no longer a fear of scarcity. They won’t fear that their things will be taken from them, and it leaves them open to giving with love and sincerity.
Rather than jumping in, let them communicate their boundaries to their friend. It may be helpful to coach them about how to express this in a kind way until they can get the hang of it themselves.
What is yours?
Showing respect for their “no” will help them show respect for other people’s boundaries in return.
My child loves to play with my purse, but sometimes I don’t want him to because I don’t want him to lose important things. I tell him “that belongs to mama, you need to ask first.”
Over time he begins to understand the purse belongs to mama just like his things belong to him. He will learn to ask to use other people’s things, and respect when they tell him “no.”
If we can model kindness for their boundaries about their belongings, we set a great example of how to be kind and respectful.
What is ours?
Some things belong to everybody. Maybe it belongs to the whole family, or to a public space you are using. If your child doesn’t want to share something that belongs to everybody, something that can be helpful is teaching turn-taking instead. Allow the child who found it first to have their turn, time it, and then allow the next child to have a turn as well.
It may be helpful to coach your child through how to talk to their friend. Try encouraging your child to say “You can have it when I’m done” or to ask “Can I have a turn when you are done?”
If you run into temper tantrums while teaching your kids to share something that is “ours”, try some of my tips for turning a temper tantrum around.
3. I want his inner voice to become gentle and encouraging- so I set the example for how to be kind by holding space for his feelings.
It can be so helpful to understand what is going on underneath a behavior that feels unkind. If your child doesn’t want to share: ask them questions, show empathy, and hold space for their feelings.
You showing empathy and holding space for your child’s emotions is a great model for your child to follow as they learn how to be kind to their friends.
Examples of clarifying questions to ask:
“Do you want to share your toy?”
“Why don’t you want to share this toy?”
“How did you decide?”
“It felt like… is this what you meant?”
Emotions your child might be feeling to kindly express empathy for:
When you are better able to understand your child’s position, and hold space and empathy for what they are feeling, you gain trust and put yourself in a position where they can hold space for the things you are trying to teach them.
I think it’s safe to say that we all want our kids to have good self-esteem, and learning this skill helps! Check out this post for more tips on teaching your kid to have a confident inner voice.
4. I want him to be creative- so I help him look for possible solutions.
For every problem, there is a solution. Once you understand what is underneath your child’s “no,” help them feel empathy and open their minds to possible solutions. Over time, you’ll be amazed at how creative your kid can be!
Teaching your child empathy means helping them relate to and hold space for someone else’s feelings without it being their responsibility to fix it.
Help them understand how the child may feel about their choice. Again, that doesn’t mean they have to share or take responsibility for the way someone else feels, it just means we can brainstorm some possible solutions to the dilemma.
Teach your child they can be kind while honoring their personal boundaries.
Some inspiration for probing questions to inspire kind and creative solutions:
Would it be ok to share it when you are done?
Is there another toy you are willing to share?
How about we all do something else instead?
5. I want him to believe in abundance- so I teach kindness and the idea that there is plenty to go around.
When people feel like they don’t have enough, they are probably more hesitant to share. The root of scarcity is fear and lack of creativity.
Abundance is a universal principle, and it is one that I want my son to understand. I want him to know how to receive blessings in his own life, and to use his blessings to give and bless other people. I want him to recognize and share the abundance God gives him.
When we have gratitude for what we have and recognize that it is enough, it attracts more.
When they understand there is enough, teaching kids how to be kind is more natural. Help them understand there are plenty of cars or dolls, or m&m’s, or whatever it may be to go around and to share.
You can also teach that what goes around comes around. When they share with their friends, their friends will be more excited to share with them too.
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