Experts Say Forcing Your Child To Share Won’t Teach Them Generosity

Children can have difficulty learning concepts like gratitude, compassion, and empathy.

Children are often tempted to guilt their older siblings into sharing toys when screaming to play with one.

Should you force your child to share? Kids who share their toys may not learn grace and generosity from this practice.

According to the mentors at Curious Parenting, “Gratitude, generosity, and empathy only work when given freely. They don’t ring as true when forced, and kids can tell.”

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Instead, the post encourages adults to model the behavior they want their children to emulate rather than force them to apologize, say “thank you,” or share their possessions.

James Baldwin said, “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”

Author and host Susan Gold Groner agree that modeling is more effective in teaching generosity than force.

Groner says, With a baby or very young child, you can’t reason – so when playing with them, even in parallel play, you share the toy with them.

Learn Your Child’s Sharing Boundaries

Groner says some kids are okay with sharing certain toys or foods, but others might not. Some kids may be very possessive.

She says, “It takes a while to understand your child’s boundaries, but it’s important to respect them once you find them. Some children may be happy to share a toy, but not their ice cream.”

Sharing Takes Practice And Time

Children start sharing freely with their peers in the third or fourth grade without encouragement. Groner says they understand why we share and are more open to reason.

She says, “Little children tend to believe the world revolves around them. During elementary school, they start to realize how their behavior affects others.”

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Share What Kids Want And What They Don’t

Grover says, “I don’t like forcing kids. Forcing them to share only builds anger and resentment. Sharing becomes a negative emotion instead of a positive one.”

Groner suggests that your child decides what they don’t want to share with their friend before a playdate. Box up those items and place them in their closet.