Secrets to Help Kids Share, Take Turns, and Join the Human Race
By Michele Borba, Ed.D.
from NOBODY LIKES ME, EVERYBODY HATES ME:
The Top 25 Friendship Problems and How to Solve Them
by Michele Borba Jossey-Bass Publishers; April 2005. ISBN 0-7879-7662-8
mine." "But I had it first." "I want a turn!"
Sound familiar? All parents want their kids to "play nice"
by sharing, taking turns, and cooperating with their friends. After
all, it means their child is learning how to socialize and get along.
It also signifies a big moment in moral development and social growth
since once a child can share it means he's transitioned from the
"egocentric" stage (in which the world basically revolves
around him and his needs). He can consider the needs and feelings
of others which is so essential to making and keeping friends.
to share, take turns, and cooperate doesn't always happen by chance:
some kids need a lot more reminders. But just telling kids to "play
nice" doesn't change behavior: you need to show them how to
share and help them understand why it is important that they do
so. Sharing is one of the first social skills kids learn, so it's
also one of the most important. Without the ability to share and
take turns, your child's friendship quotient will be greatly jeopardized.
After all, who wants to be with a kid who hoards the video games?
And when will they learn those skills if not now: college, the work
place, relationships and marriage will be too late. Here are ten
strategies you can use to start boosting this essential friendship
building skill with your child right now.
Teach by example. The best way kids learn isn't by our lectures
but showing them. So let your child see you sharing and taking turns
so they have a model to copy. Make a point of offering them the
biggest portion of desert, offer to share your favorite slippers
or funny hat your kid loves to put on, take an evening to share
your time with kids, the most precious commodity you may have as
far as they are concerned.
how to share. Instead of telling your kids to share, show them how
to take turns. Get on the floor with your little one - and gently
roll a rubber ball back and forth between you. As you do, say "My
turn, now it's your turn. Roll it back to Mommy." Your child
will begin to get the idea that sharing means taking turns. For
older kids, dust off those old game boards such as Monopoly, Clue,
Chutes and Ladders, Checkers then graduate to playing catch, Frisbee,
videogames, and ultimately work projects in the home, yard, or community.
your child to share. Tell your child that you expect him to share.
Right before a friend arrives is the best time to remind him: "Karen
will be here shortly so let's set out the toys you'd like to share
and think she would enjoy." "Remember, sharing is not
an option. I expect you to share." "Sam's coming soon
so remember our rule about being considerate of your friends."
the value of sharing. Pointing out the impact sharing has on the
other child boosts the likelihood that your child will repeat the
behavior. "Did you see Kali's smile when you shared your toys?
You made her happy." "Joshua really enjoyed coming over
because you were such a nice host and shared the equipment."
only what belongs to you. It's also a good idea to emphasize that
you may share only items that belong to you; otherwise, permission
must be granted from the owner. "That belongs to my brother,
so it's not something I can share." "That's my dad's.
We have to ask him before we can use it."
the right way. "Instead of grabbing the toy, tell your brother
that you'd like a turn. Now you try." "Pretend I'm you're
friend. Ask me what I'd like to do." "Let's try that again
so you give your friend a chance to play with the bubble blower."
role reversal. When your child doesn't share, ask her to put herself
in the other child's place. "Put yourself in your friend's
shoes. What do you think he'd like to say to you about the time
he spent watching you on the computer all afternoon?" Doing
so is one way to help your child shift from thinking about herself
and ponder how her friends feel.
away valuable equipment. Telling your child to put away any toys
he does not want to share before his guest arrives actually promotes
sharing, especially in five- to nine-year-olds. After all, there
are certain possessions that are very special to your child, so
putting those items away before a guest arrives minimizes potential
friend conflicts. Then say: "Anything you leave out and things
you have to share."
family roles. One way to help kids understand the value of sharing
is to find opportunities to rotate different family roles and privileges
so each family member gets a turn. Possibilities might be rotating
chores, choosing the nightly television show, movie, video rental,
family outing, dessert, or even sitting in the coveted "hot
seat" (front passenger seat of the car).
consequence. Despite all your efforts, your kid still continues
to hoard and refuses to share, it's time to set a natural consequence.
Some teachers set one classroom rule, and it works wonders: "If
you don't share, you don't play." The rule can work for any
age. Another idea is if your child refuses to share an item, the
toy is given a "time-out" for a specified time. When "time
out" is up, the denied friend gets first option on the toy.
For older kids try a great teacher rule: "If you don't share,
the other person takes two turns in a row."
simple changes can reap big results. So don't give up until you
see the changes in your child. Then congratulate yourself for your
efforts and recognize that they paid off.
Michele Borba, Ed.D. is a renowned educational consultant who has
worked with more than one million parents and teachers and is the
recipient of the National Educator Award. She serves on the advisory
board of the Tadpole Club www.tadpoleclub.com
and is on the honorary board of Parents magazine. She has appeared
as a guest expert on Today, The Early Show, The View, Fox &
Friends, MSNBC, and NPR. She is the award-winning author of 20 books
including PARENTS DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE, NO MORE MISBEHAVIN', BUILDING
MORAL INTELLIGENCE, DON'T GIVE ME THAT ATTITUDE!, and NOBODY LIKES
ME, EVERYBODY HATES ME (all Jossey-Bass). She is a credentialed
expert, former teacher, and mom who can address topics of concern
to parents of young children and teenagers alike. For more information
about her work see www.micheleborba.com.
© 2005 by Michele Borba. Permission to reprint if left intact.