Accidentally Teaching Your Kids to Share

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When we become parents, there are many things we purposely set forth to accomplish, and parenting tactics we mindfully employ. But sometimes, we stumble upon parenting gold completely by accident.

I have four young daughters, ages 9, 6, 5, and 2, and one thing we have been lucky enough to avoid (so far) is sibling jealousy. Sure, they fight and bicker occasionally, but the three times we brought a new baby home from the hospital to meet her sibling(s), we didn’t encounter the jealousy and regression that so often accompanies such a life change. Not only that, but they’ve also always done a pretty good job of sharing their toys. None of them are terribly possessive. For a long time, I would tell people that we just lucked out that our firstborn was naturally generous and good at sharing, which she certainly is, but now with a few parenting years under my belt, I have another theory.

My Theory

When our oldest was four months old, we moved to a new town and joined a church that met in small groups on Sunday evenings. Our small group met at one family’s tiny apartment, and since we had just bought a 4 bedroom house, we offered to host small group at our house. So our second week in a new town, we started hosting small group. Since we only had one tiny baby, we had to go out and buy some toys for the older kids to play with when they came over. So from the time our oldest daughter was 4 months old, she was sharing her toys with other kids every week. What’s more, within the year, I began hosting a mommy group at my house weekly. Our oldest daughter never knew a time that her toys were “hers”. Her expectation from the get-go was that her space and possessions were to be shared.

The second tactic that I believe contributed to my kids being fairly good at sharing came later on. When siblings came along, we kept (and still keep) most toys in a communal area and have never made any effort to keep each child’s toys separate. Sure, they have a few special items they keep for themselves, but for the most part, no matter who got what for their birthday or Christmas, it goes in the toy box and everyone plays with it.

When we become parents, there are many things we purposely set forth to accomplish, and parenting tactics we mindfully employ. But sometimes, we stumble upon parenting gold completely by accident.

Give it a Try!

These weren’t parenting techniques that I attempted with the goal of making my kids more generous, and less greedy. In fact, it wasn’t until I reflected on a few years of parenting that all this toy and space sharing is what made my kids not particularly jealous.

So even though I stumbled upon these parenting techniques, if you have a young child or children and want to reduce the likelihood of jealousy and sibling rivalry, they may be techniques that you can mindfully employ. From a young age, have people in your home on a regular basis! Host a church small group, or a mommy group, or a weekly dinner with friends. Make sharing space and toys the expectation for your kids. And let me know how it goes, because who knows, maybe we did just get lucky!

How about you mamas? Any other tips on how to get kids to share? We'd love to hear!

Contributing Author

alyso
About {Alyson}

I live in beautiful north Idaho, where I am a stay at home mom to four beautiful girls ages 2 to 9. I also work from home as a property manager.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Whether you are “lucky” or the willingness to share is a result of your lifestyle of hospitality, your family are great examples of so many wonderful traits. When I think of model parents, you and Jim are first on my list.

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