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Encouraging Heroes. You can be one too.

(Editor’s note: please welcome this guest post from Kumon, with some excellent suggestions we can use to help our kiddos learn to share.)

The holiday season is a time when many people focus on giving and sharing. Sharing is a wonderful virtue, but it can be a struggle for children, especially when they are young. There are many ways your family can practice and encourage sharing, at home and in your community as a whole. Start small and let the sharing grow.

Sharing at Home
When children are young, they are often protective of their belongings and refuse to share with others while playing. It is easy to immediately scold a child and take away a toy when he or she does not share, but scolding can create a deeper need to protect items in the future. Sharing has to come from within.

Every child is unique and every situation is different. The key is to provide neutrality. Encourage your children to work out the issue with each other. Have them start by asking politely. Be ready to suggest other activities if the child with the toy will not readily agree to share. If one child consistently dominates toys and activities and never shares or constantly interrupts siblings and demands their toys, establish ground rules that allow each child to play with a toy for a set amount of time. Also, discuss the value of sharing and how it feels to be included, and model sharing behavior every day. Eventually your children will be comfortable with sharing and will be ready to take it to the next level.

Sharing in the Community
For another approach to internalizing the importance of sharing, encourage your children to think of ways that sharing can help people in need. Throughout the year, sharing time by volunteering can help your children experience the deep feeling of love and goodwill that occurs when helping those in need. In the spring, when cleaning out closets and underneath beds, encourage your children to gather toys and clothes they no longer need and take them to a local shelter or a charitable thrift store. During the holidays, have your children practice sharing their toys by donating some of them to charity. If your children feel especially ambitious, they could hold a small fundraiser to benefit a charity of their choice.

Sharing helps develop empathy and caring; it also teaches children about the world around them and the people who live in it. Empower your children to share, and you may be surprised to find out just how creative and motivated they are to help those in need.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents who want their children to share.

Image courtesy of speedye via Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.