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Sharing Toys

Does your child share his toys with his friends or his siblings? Here's how to inculcate a spirit of generosity in your child.

As 3-year-old Tarun plays with his toy train, 1-year-old Kabir, his younger brother, also wants to have a go. He heads straight for the train and Tarun, anticipating his move, reaches out and grabs it. A struggle ensues and Tarun, being bigger and stronger, naturally wins the battle. Kabir goes crying to mommy, and mommy looks disapprovingly at Tarun. "He is your younger brother Tarun, give him your train." Tarun doesn't heed your words, so you forcibly take the train away, shout at Tarun, punish him or let him know your disapproval in no uncertain terms.

If you punish your child or take the toy away forcibly, your child will only resent the action. By taking this course of action you may be forcing your child to obey you or pay the consequences, but you are not instilling a spirit of generosity in him. Imagine if a colleague comes up to you and wants that new silver and chrome lamp on your desk. You don't want to part with it, he complains to the boss, and the boss comes up, picks up the lamp from your desk and hands it over to your colleague. Your colleague runs off gleefully with his prize, and your boss looks you over disapprovingly, telling you that you should be more accommodating towards the new recruits. Not only will you get frustrated, but you will immediately start resenting your colleague. In the same manner, forcing an older child to give up his toy to his younger sibling sows the seed for sibling rivalry, and is also unfair to the older child. There is no reason he should have to part with something that belongs to him just because his younger brother wants it. When parents have two children, they often expect the older child to give in to the demands of the younger one, which is unfair when you think about the fact that your older child too is just a small kid.

It is important to realize that at this very young age children are not developmentally ready to share. True, some more generous children will not have a problem sharing their chocolates with their siblings or best friends, but most other children are far more possessive about their belongings. This is the age when children start appreciating and developing a liking towards certain objects, and they also understand that it is far too easy to have these objects taken away from them.

A part of the reason children don't part with their possessions is because they feel they don't have control over them. The minute your child knows that his toys belong to him, and he can get them back at any time from his brother, he will be more willing to part with them.

It is always a good idea to play give and take games with your child. If your child is possessive about a particular toy, gently request her if you can take it from her for a minute. When she gives it to you, you can hug it, hug her, play with the toy, give it a kiss anything random, and then return the toy to her. Make sure you return the toy to her in a few seconds, so she will not mind parting with it again. Keep passing her toy back and forth. In this manner she will see for herself that just because she is letting you have the toy for a little while, it does not mean that she is losing the toy. She will also learn that she can have fun even when she shares her toys.

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