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Parenting an Only Child Tip #1 It's good to share!

Blog Post Teaser Image “You can’t have it! It’s mine!”

Sharing doesn’t come naturally to most kids.

Developmentally, young children are egocentric and self-centred. Nothing wrong with that but the socialisation process requires kids to share their time, space and possessions with others.

Having siblings usually means that kids, whether they want to or not, have to share. For a start, they have to share their parents and they have to wait their turn to be heard. Food, conversation, bathrooms, toys, chairs, cars trips and household chores are every day staple activities that children with siblings cut their sharing teeth on.

Parents of only children usually have to work hard to develop the sharing habit. It’s not that only children are any more self-centred by nature but many lack the every day sharing opportunities afforded by living amongst a large brood.

No dramas! There are many ways that parents of only children can develop the sharing habit in their child. Here are some ideas:

1. Develop the language of sharing: “It’s good to share!” is a phrase that many children, not just only children, need to hear. Look for ways of developing a rich vocabulary around the sharing of time, space and place. Terms such as ‘give and take’, ‘wait your turn’, ‘be generous with toys’ are examples of a rich sharing vocabulary that only kids can become familiar with.

2. Make sure they share with you: Look for opportunities for only children to share with you including meals, playing games and conversations. Sharing involves waiting as well as giving so create opportunities at home where only children can practise these.

3. Reinforce the sharing habit: It’s a quirk of family life that what parents notice usually expands. If you want more sharing then you need to notice it more and comment accordingly.

4. Encourage paired activities: Often siblings in families do a great deal together. I recall my children sharing jobs, hearing each other read and once, even planning a family holiday together. Look for opportunities for your only child to work with and play with others so that they learn to the skills of compromise and negotiation.

5. They don’t have to share everything: Importantly, a child shouldn’t have to share everything he or she owns with others. When a friend comes to visit then discuss the toys and possessions he or she would like to share, and put away those things they don’t want to share. Kids with siblings usually learn this naturally, while only children can become upset when other children don’t treat their possessions with the same respect as they do.

There are many ways that parents can develop the sharing habit in only children. The best place to start is to develop a sharing mindset as a parent. Do this and you’ll start to notice sharing opportunities for your child that you didn’t know existed.

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