For children, sharing isn’t easy, but it’s an important part in their social development
Dec 4, 2023, 2:59 PM | Updated: 3:04 pm
SALT LAKE CITY — For every parent of young kids, it’s no secret, “sharing” isn’t something that comes naturally for most children. But it’s an important part of their social development.For eight years now, Shani Higham has spent her days as a preschool teacher down on the ground with the kids. “We do games, and we do stories about taking turns, and we teach them how to ask for a turn,” Higham said. “Instead of just taking and saying it’s mine.” It’s in preschool where many young children have their first experience with trying to share. And it’s not a skill that comes easily. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics says children younger than the age of 3 cannot understand the concept of sharing.
“So, when you use the word share with a 3-year-old, that’s like asking a 2-month-old to walk, they don’t understand it,” Higham said.That’s why she’s come up with creative ways to help the 2-to-4-year-olds make sense of it – through music.
“If you put actions and songs into things, it helps them,” Higham said. “By within two weeks, they can remember everything.”Kimberli Berrett is a clinician at The Children’s Center. She says young children and toddlers are, by nature, self-centered and learning to share takes work.
“They do need a lot of support from their caregivers to learn that concept of sharing,” Berrett said.
That support is something adults can model.
“If we think of, developmentally in general, caregivers are modeling,” Berrett said. “Often all of the skills that children are developing.“Sharing is one of those that can be learned, too. But it can also be tough. That’s why Berrett also says adults need to be ready to offer support.
“Big people can validate their feelings,” Berrett said. “They can name those feeling for them and help them to understand that it’s ok to have those feelings, but we just have to work through those.”Children as young as 2 years old can be ready to start taking turns. And that is a great first step to getting them to understand the wants and needs of others. And, once a few kids in her class master sharing, she says others tend to follow.
For more ideas, check out 5B45kids.org.