As we are entering the giving season, it’s the perfect time of year for teaching kids about giving. A great place to start is by helping your child understand the importance of sharing. For any child, sharing can sometimes be a challenge. And let’s admit it, sometimes it can be a challenge for adults, too.
Nancy Eisenberg, a leading researcher on children’s social development, suggests that instead of forcing children to share, we change our approach – we let “children become more generous by having the experience of giving to others and learning how good that feels.”
You may think sharing is a lesson best taught to very young children, toddler age. However, in an article in Parents, educational consultant (and mom) Sara Lise Raff explains that a child won’t “truly understand the concept of sharing until about age 5.”
Of course, it’s important to help young ones understand the importance of taking turns, but this time of year is the perfect opportunity to encourage generosity and model sharing.
One way to teach this lesson is by letting your child choose a toy to donate to an organization that has a toy drive. Or let your child put money into the Salvation Army’s bucket at the local shopping center. Or help your child sort through outgrown clothes or toys to donate to a shelter. You’ll add the bonus lesson of sharing with others without expecting anything in return.
This year adopt a spirit of giving as a family. Whether you make cookies and deliver them to the neighbors, serve Thanksgiving dinner at a local shelter or donate money or goods to a food bank, do it as a family. When your children see you sharing, they’ll be much more likely to do the same without an argument. (And it’s a great way to prepare them for the reality of having to share toys if you are expecting lots of company!)