Being able to share is a sign of maturity that every parent wants for his or her child, so it can be diffi cult to overhear your child involved in a confl ict about sharing in the next room. “Sharing is a very emotional issue that gets to our core because it’s related to building lifelong friendships,” says Claire Lerner. “You just have to remind yourself that this issue can push your buttons. Don’t run in like a banshee.
Take a deep breath and remember that you need to be your child’s rock and his coach, not someone who is fraught with anxiety.” If two children are unwilling to share a train they both want, you can say, “If you can’t work this out, then that toy has to be put away,” suggests Lerner, who believes in stating a matter-of-fact consequence rather than giving a punishment. Another important key: “Very quickly—in 10 minutes, or after lunch—bring the train back and give them another chance.” If, again, they can’t share it, give them the same consequence: Put the toy away. “If they do share, say, ‘You’re doing such a good job—should we take out another train?’ Kids will fi gure, hey, this is a good thing!”
The old saying “A broken-record parent is a good parent” holds especially true when it comes to teaching children about sharing; it shouldn’t end with toddlerhood. “Every family has different values about sharing, and it’s wonderful to talk to your child about what you as a family agree to share and not share,” says Tim Craig. “Maybe you don’t share your new car, but you do share food when friends come over, or maybe you give to food drives.” If you have these talks regularly, then sharing won’t be atypical or problematic for your growing child. Nicole Gregory is a writer and editor who lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Daniel, and their 9-year-old son, Charlie.