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How do you teach your kids to share

Here’s how I helped my kids to turn “mine, mine, mine” into “share, share, share”

“You don’t touch this! Don’t ever touch this!”

My daughter Jamaine imitates one of Lilo’s dialogues in the movie “Lilo and Stitch” and promptly smacks her little sister Kalia on the head.

“Mommmyyy!!!” My little one would cry and come running to me.

I asked Jamaine to apologize but she indignantly held on to her pail of clay balls and refused to make amends.

Here we go again.

Teaching my girls how to share has been my main challenge for the past months.

Okay, maybe I shouldn’t have let them watch Lilo and Stitch and shown them happy movies instead. (The DVD has long been thrown into the wastebin.)

But sometimes, I still wonder what else I need to do to help them learn the value of sharing.

Since my girls are just 14 months apart, I’m afraid we haven’t really given Jamaine enough time to learn what it means to be a big sister.

She was only beginning to enjoy being the family’s only princess when baby Kalia joined our family.

I think Jamaine feels she and her sister are equals. But since she is bigger and more articulate, she is more assertive and often lords over the little one.

I confess, I could have done a better job at spacing my kids, but that’s another story.

Moving forward, I just want to teach my girls how to share and get along well with each other.

Teaching kids to share

One of the things that has always helped me keep things in perspective was: See the innocence.

It’s easy to judge and say these kids are so selfish.

But when you think about it, kids really are self-centered, not because they want to, but because they don’t know yet the value of sharing and getting along.

They operate on the principle: “What’s mine is mine. And what is yours is also mine.”

Of course, a child’s age is not an excuse to allow selfishness. And as a parent, it’s my important job to teach them a better way to behave.

These are some of the things I’ve done so far to teach my kids about sharing:

1. “One for you, one for me.”

My immediate solution to prevent my girls from bickering is to always get two pieces of anything.

Whether it’s a new doll or a bar of chocolate, they always have to have the same one.

The items have to be the same because when one is slightly different, say in color or flavor, one of the girls feel that the other one is getting something nicer or better.

When you give them the same thing, they feel that they are treated equally and both of them deserve special gifts.

Of course, this is not always the best solution because there are times when they can’t have the same thing, like when our relatives give them different gifts. This is when the other methods I describe below come into play.

2. Be a sharer.

I realized that setting an example of sharing is one of the most effective ways I can teach my children.

It dawned on me that sometimes, we adults act selfish without us being aware of it.

For example, my daughter wanted to borrow my cellphone and I told her I couldn’t lend it to her.

When she asked me why, I explained that it’s important and she might drop it.

I simply wanted to be careful about my things since mobiles don’t come cheap. But in my daughter’s perspective, she must have thought I was being selfish!

So when her sister borrows her toy guitar and she refuses to lend it, she must be thinking the same way I did, “My guitar is important and my sister might break it.”

From then on, I made it a point to always share with my daughter when she asks to borrow my things.

Of course, I don’t share everything. I make sure to keep anything I can’t share with her out of sight, such as my gadgets, books and journals so she won’t think of borrowing it.

When I do lend her something, I always tell her to be careful and I emphasize that I am sharing it with her.

3. Explain and explain.

Take every opportunity you can get to explain and emphasize the value of sharing.

Right now, Dora the Explorer’s “Save the Crystal Kingdom” episode is on constant replay on our DVD. It’s about a king who took the crystals away from the kingdom because he didn’t want to share.

I would explain to my kids that the king was unhappy and he didn’t have any friends because he always wants everything for himself.

In the end of the story, Dora and her friend Allie retrieve all the crystals and teach the king about the value of sharing.

My daughters and I often join in Dora’s chorus: “Share! Share! Share!” And I could see the good vibes are rubbing off on them bit by bit.

I’m also extra vigilant during playtimes so I can intervene even before a toy-tug-of-war ensues.

When they want the same toy, I try and distract one of them with another toy or I just explain over and over that they can share until one of them gives in.

This can really test my patience but right now, it’s the only way I know how to help them learn.

When teaching kids to share, love and patience really are key. You can’t teach it to them overnight. This is an ongoing lesson they have to learn everyday until it’s fully ingrained into their hearts and minds.

And when they do grow up to be loving, caring and sharing persons, then that would be my ultimate reward.