Having more than a singleton child is going to cause a problem with sharing. Unless there is a huge age gap or the interests of the children differ widely, then time and time again conflicts will arise over toys, food or just about anything. We’ve tried a few strategies to encourage sharing.
With twins, the dilemma occurs whether to buy identical toys to avoid the inevitable squabbling but I really believe that this only minimises the issue slightly. We have a limited number of duplicate toys. These are often bought as gifts and even with these, one will be more desirable. Generally, this is just because the other has it and so they now want it.
From a young age, we’ve tried to instill the idea that if one is playing with something, then it cannot be taken even if technically it belongs to the other. If they want it, they have to ask. I model this all the time. “Emily, if you ask Jessica nicely, I’m sure she’ll let you play with X when she’s finished”. More often than not it’ll be passed on within the minute.
Encouraging independent sharing
We also make it clear that it is not up to Mummy and Daddy when they give it. No time is set. I don’t want to force them to share. I want them to learn that sharing can feel good. However, when they do share of their own accord, we praise them highly and make sure they are rewarded with thanks from their sibling. Again I model this over and over. “Jessica, wasn’t that kind of Emily to give you X, what should you say?”
My girls have in no way mastered this skill but they are getting better day by day. Take for example the soft toys their Nannie and Popa bought when they were born. The rabbit was bought for Jess and Emily got a bear. For the last month, Emily has taken a particular shine to the rabbit and likes to sleep with it at nap time. Instead of being overly protective, Jessica will often find the rabbit for Emily after lunch. Even though she knows it is hers, Jess is aware that it makes her sister happy and so seems happy to share.
Obviously it’s not always like this. We face battles daily over one item or another but I’m proud of how they are learning to give and take and share because they want to.
How do you encourage sharing?