As parents, there are many different virtues that we wish to develop in our children. Having a child who is generous and willing to share with others is often at the top of that list. Building generosity is not always easy, especially during the toddler and pre-school years. Here are a few ways to help your child become more generous…
Explain it – Have a discussion with your child. Explain how sharing works. Many kids feel that if they share with others, they will no longer have that item again. Let kids know that sharing is only a temporary thing (except in the case of food). Explain why we share with others or give things to other people. Use examples that they can relate with like toys, birthday gifts, etc. This will help them gain a better understanding of what all generosity entails.
Feelings – Discuss the feelings involved in sharing and being generous. Have your child imagine how they would feel if others wouldn’t let them play with toys that they had. Ask them how they would feel if someone shared with them. Let them know how good people feel when you give them something. Ask them how they feel when they get a gift from a you or a relative. What feelings are involved? Wouldn’t it be nice to make someone else feel that way?
Practice – Practice sharing with your child. Have them role play sharing with you. Talk them through the experience while you share and display/discuss the emotions that are involved, “Mommy is so happy that you are letting her play with your toy car.” This will help your child better understand the process and see that they do get their items back eventually.
Model it – Be a generous person yourself. Let your child see you sharing and giving to others, including family, friends, and strangers. Point out different instances when you share something “See Mommy is sharing her recipe with Grandma” or “Daddy was so generous he made breakfast for everyone this morning.”Seeing these different examples of sharing and generosity will help your child understand the concept better and allow them to come up with their own ways to copy the behaviour. Do other generous deeds, like donating to the food bank or homeless shelter and explain to your child why you do these things. Remember monkey see, monkey do!
Off -Limits – Don’t force your child to share everything. This can make things especially difficult. Understand that your child does have certain things that they probably cherish more than others. Don’t force them into sharing things that are comfort items, like favourite stuffed animal or blankets. Reserve some things that are just for your child.
Positive Reinforcement – When your child is generous to you, a sibling, family, friends or strangers, praise them. Explain how nice that was of them and let them know that they have done a good deed. This will make them feel good, knowing that they have made you proud. They will also appreciate the recognition of doing a good deed.
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