We are searching data for your request:
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.
What to expect at this age
Preschoolers are well into the process of becoming more social. This means that your youngster will have moments of generosity – she'll take turns with the sand shovel or share her cookies – but these acts won't be consistent and won't always occur when you wish they would.
The good news is that this inconsistency is utterly normal. Preschoolers still think of themselves first. They also place great value on personal possessions, so they don't share them easily. "We think that a toy is just a little plastic soldier or a Barbie doll, but a kid's identity is locked up in there," says Paul Coleman, a psychologist, family therapist, and the author of How to Say It to Your Kids.
Still, preschooler do display moments of generosity, and you can capitalize on your opportunities to encourage such behavior. A good way to begin is to focus on sharing.
What you can do
Demonstrate generosity. Teaching by example is one of the most effective ways to influence your preschooler's behavior. So during lunch, ask, "Want a bite of my sandwich, honey? Let me share it with you." Sharing a fun activity also leaves an impression: "I'm watering the garden – come share the hose with me." The more you use the word "share," the sooner she'll learn what it means.
Discuss other people's wants and needs. "You're trying to socialize your preschooler to see a world bigger than himself," says Wayne Dosick, a rabbi and the author of Golden Rules: The Ten Ethical Values Parents Need to Teach Their Children. So when your preschooler says, "I want chocolate milk!" in the grocery store, you can reply, "Okay, that's what you would like. Now, what do you think Daddy would like? What treat should we bring home for him?"
"That way, you're not just saying, 'Hey, don't be selfish!'" says Dosick. "Instead, you're telling him in the gentlest way, 'Be aware of others' needs.'"
Teach your preschooler that sharing can be temporary. She'll feel better when she knows that she can let a friend use her toy and still get it back. So explain to her, "Emma's just borrowing your doll right now. She's not going to take it home with her; it's still yours to keep."
Show that you disapprove of selfishness. Reprimands that are firm and consistent, but not harsh, will teach your preschooler the family stance on generosity. "I don't like it when you keep all the toy animals for yourself," you can say. "In our family, we share. Please let your brother have some of them too." Try not to resort to punishment, though. It'll probably just make her more defiant, not more generous.
Pile on the praise. Whenever your preschooler does share, tell her how happy it makes you. "You're so nice to share your Halloween candy with me!" you can say. Or "I'm so proud of you for sharing your doll with your sister." She'll be happy that she pleased you, and eventually generous behavior will come to her more naturally.
Set some toys aside. It isn't easy to share everything. After all, "You wouldn't necessarily want your neighbor to drive your new car," Coleman points out. Your preschooler may have an easier time learning to share if she knows that a few favorite items are just for her. If a friend is coming over and your preschooler's especially possessive of her new dress-up shoes, let her hide them away beforehand. Tell her she doesn't have to share them because they're special, but explain that all her other toys will be for both children to play with.
Let your preschooler learn from her peers. The best way for her to learn to share is for her friends to teach her – and they will! Try not to get involved in every battle over toys; kids eventually learn how to compromise when they realize that selfish behavior drives playmates away.
Look for the reasons behind her stinginess. If sharing remains a major obstacle for your preschooler, examine other issues in her life. Has your family just moved? Has she just started preschool, or has a favorite pet recently died? Sometimes a preschooler will react to tough transitions by clinging more tightly to a beloved possession. In that case, "She's just holding onto something because she needs an extra security blanket," Coleman explains. Try not to get frustrated. Give her the time and support she needs to work through what's really bothering her, and save the sharing lessons for later.