Updated: Sep 12, 2022
By Dr. Joanne Foster, www.joannefoster.ca
“The miracle is this: the more we share the more we have.”
~ Leonard Nimoy
Sharing is a learned skill. Parents can model what sharing is all about, for example, when participating in activities with children, sitting down for meals, or spending leisure time together. Seize opportunities to encourage sharing, such as while playing games, singing songs, telling jokes, going on nature hikes, being silly, watching movies, or doing crafts or puzzles.
Sharing, and helping kids learn to share, are important supportive measures. Sharing enables children to learn how to get along with others while at the same time strengthening their understanding of generosity, flexibility, and empathy. Help children discover how to share meaningfully with others through their interactions with family members, friends, and the people with whom they connect daily.
Here are some suggestions that parents might want to consider in relation to how to nurture sharing and make the most of various shared experiences with their children.
SHARING JOY AND ENTHUSIASM
Joy ensues from effort and journeys, not just from outcomes and destinations. Reinforce and show pride in children’s small steps and accomplishments. Share the excitement of progress! Even a little forward momentum can be a mighty starting point for sparking joy, enthusiasm, and motivation. Share laughter and hugs, too!
Help children appreciate the power of collaboration. How do you network happily and significantly with others, and what can your kids learn from your experiences with connectivity, teamwork, or sharing within different environments or contexts?
Feelings fluctuate, so be aware of factors and influences that can affect your child’s emotional functioning. Pay heed to their concerns and whatever else they care to share. Remember that their actions and behaviors reflect how they’re feeling, yet they may not be able to convey their emotions clearly. For example, anger, disappointment, sadness, worry, or frustration may be hard for young children to discern or explain.
Here are some new resources with lots of helpful information, including suggestions for sharing strength-building strategies with your child.
Matthews, D. Imperfect Parenting: How to Build a Relationship with Your Child to Weather Any Storm. (2022). https://donamatthews.com
Delahooke, M. Brain-Body Parenting: How to Stop Managing Behavior and Start Raising Joyful Resilient Kids. (2022). https://monadelahooke.com
Hurley, K. The Stress-buster Workbook for Kids: 75 Evidence-Based Strategies to Help Kids Regulate Their Emotions, Build Coping Skills, and Tap into Positive Thinking. (2021). https://practicalkatie.com/the-stress-buster-workbook-for-kids/
Schwarz, N. It Starts with You: How Imperfect Parents Can Find Calm and Connect With Their Kids (2022). https://imperfectfamilies.com
The more kids share their ideas and perspectives, the greater the possibilities for learning. Thoughts and opinions are always in flux, and sharing ideas with people we trust can be heartening, especially during times of challenge or change. Listen carefully to what children have to say. This will help them feel increasingly comfortable about sharing their ideas and be reassured, too.
Encourage children to express themselves creatively. Creativity is a catalyst for pleasure, problem-solving, solace, and competence-building. Share ways in which you infuse creativity and imagination into your own life—your interests, achievements, and aspirations. It will send an important message about the value of creative fulfillment. Invite children’s curiosity, inquiry, and ingenuity, which can propel fresh ways of thinking and doing. Sharing ideas leads to more ideas!
SHARING TOYS AND ACTIVITIES
Learning to share toys, games, and other materials is a key aspect of play—whether it occurs in pairs or larger groups, is structured or unstructured, or transpires at home, in playgrounds, or somewhere else. How do you share your things? Teach children about being gracious, and how to engage in courteous “back-and-forthing” types of behavior.
Sharing “stuff” begins at home—and early on. Food, space, parental attention, books, arts and crafts materials, costumes, and more… Help children appreciate why sharing stuff is beneficial, and why keeping it all to themselves is not.
Teach your child about kindness, fairness, selflessness, and reciprocity. Children learn from what you share about such virtues, alongside what they see, hear, and experience over the course of any day.
SHARING LEARNING AND INFORMATION
Set and share examples of what you know to be sensible, useful, and growth-oriented practices. To that end, be effort-filled, and show strength of character, mind, body, and spirit—all of which can lead to greater learning and well-being.
Share coping strategies that children can tap into during tough times—for instance, calm, perseverance, optimism, tenacity, and resourcefulness. Show them that you perceive of setbacks as opportunities to get past challenge and develop resilience.
Sharing information with children can empower them to become invested in furthering their knowledge. There are many different and enriching kinds of resources—including through reading. Books (at various levels of sophistication) often illustrate ways in which people and animals experience sharing and problem solve. Also, music, dance, athleticism, and other forms of artistic expression are share-worthy. Demonstrate how to enjoy nature, and practice mindfulness, too.
The best way to teach children something is to live it, to exemplify it. This applies to helping them hone skill sets that will strengthen their optimal development—including learning about motivation, creativity, communication, and how to share. Parents can demonstrate sharing, as well as pointing out examples of it in real-time during daily dynamics within the family and community. They can discuss how the process of sharing transpires, and why it’s important. They can chat about consideration for others, and describe how sharing can be gratifying, help forge relationships, and enrich playtime. Indeed, opportunities for sharing are unlimited—at home, school, or elsewhere—and have the potential to create stronger foundations for learning and living harmoniously in the early years and beyond.
About the Author
Dr. Joanne Foster is a gifted education specialist and the award-winning author of several books, including the 3 rd edition of Being Smart—Being Smart about Gifted Learning: Empowering Parents and Kids Through Challenge and Change (co-authored with Dona Matthews). For additional resources on learning, creativity, productivity, children’s well-being, and more, go to www.joannefoster.ca