The concept of sharing and the virtues of generosity are not innate gifts. In fact, sharing goes against humans’ survival instincts and instead relies on social cues. Therefore, sharing is a learned behavior, and children learn to share—or not to share—early on. Sharing is also an essential social skill, allowing children to fit in with their peers. Everyone in a child’s life, from parents to siblings to daycare teachers, can teach children this valuable skill and it is never too early to start.

1) When to Share?
Not everything can or should be shared, and a child does not innately know when or what is ok to share. Tell them. Stress the importance of sharing in different situations and show how sharing can make others around the child happy. The best time to start is at home, when children are playing with siblings or neighbors, or even something as simple as sharing a snack with you.

2) Reward Sharing Behavior
Sharing should not be a chore, it should be fun. Show how delighted you are when your child shares, and tell them what a good job they’ve done, how kind they are, and that they are well-liked by their peers. If possible, give your child a special reward that is just theirs, such a toy or extra snack, to show them that sharing is good.

3) Make Sure There is Enough
If snacks, toys, crayons, stickers or whatever children are sharing are scarce, it’s difficult for a child to share. Scarcity brings up that innate survival instinct, even if the item is not essential, and this presents a frustrating dilemma for any child. Make sure there is always enough for every child and sharing will be easier.

4) Lead by Example
Children mimic their parents, older siblings, grandparents, daycare teachers and other role models. They won’t overlook moments where you share with them or others. They will also notice any possessive behaviors you show. Whenever there is an opportunity to share, take advantage of it and emphasize again the importance of generosity.

5) What Does Your Child Struggle With?
Every child is different and some children may pick up sharing very easily, while others might be more possessive. Others might be too passive and have things taken from them easily, and they may need to know how to set boundaries. Give your child rewards and teachable moments based on their unique needs.

When your child learns sharing behaviors early on, they will make friends more easily and they will not be stressed when it’s time to work or play in groups. Heaven’s Elect helps children to learn to share in a safe environment and rewards positive behaviors so these skills are easy and fun to learn at an early age.