Yank! A doll flies into the air, ripped from a preschooler’s hands by your 3-year-old daughter. "My toy," your daughter states firmly.

Does your little one rule over her toys like a tiny Napoleon? Do other moms bring their children to your house wearing helmets? If so, your child probably has a problem with sharing.

The good news is that kids this age are ready to understand the concepts of sharing and taking turns. Before this time, kids may play in the same room, but they very rarely interact or play together. As kids grow older, they need to learn to think of others. As the Bible says, "Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share" (1 Timothy 6:18).

Teaching your child how to share

Sharing makes other people happy. Explain to your child that he’ll get the toy back, but "it’d be nice to let Johnny have fun with it now." The Focus on the Family Parents’ Guide to the Spiritual Growth of Children says, "Begin to instill in your children the fact that God will take care of their needs; they can trust Him with their belongings and share them."

Be specific with your encouragement. When you see your child playing nicely with other kids, let her know. Instead of saying, "Good job sharing," say something like, "I like the way you gave Brittney the doll when she asked for it. That’s being a good friend."

Taking turns can make play more fun. If your son and his friend both want to play with a certain truck, have one of them play with the truck and the other find a different toy. Then say, "I’ll time you for two minutes, then you can switch toys and keep playing."

Stay sensitive to your child’s feelings. Don’t force your children to share, especially a new or favourite toy. Maybe allow them to keep a couple of special toys to themselves, but add, "It’s always more fun when you share and play together."

By following these basic concepts, and with the natural maturing of your children, soon they’ll figure out that sharing is always more fun.

© 2004 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

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