Is this really a topic for kids or is it for all mankind? Really, sharing is a daily battle we all fight. I know as a mom I struggle with sharing the last piece of chocolate with my kids; yet, this is something I expect them to do.
If we, as adults, have a hard time sharing, how can we expect our kids? The answer begins with us. In order to teach our children about sharing, we must lead by example. I must say, it is not easy as a mother of four girls who is asked to share my shoes with a child who may scuff them; however, I share with strict rules (hey, no judgement! Those shoes were 80$!). I try to lead by example and though I am not always perfect, it gives me an example to use when my children argue as to why they shouldn't need to share. You know the prime reason they need to share? Because God commands it.
"Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it."
2 Corinthians 9:7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
The best way my husband have taught our children to share is to not make it optional. More than 2000 verses refer to money, wealth, and contentment in the Bible. Ultimately, we do not own anything we have, God does. Therefore, we remind our children who the true possessor is and how He has allowed us to temporarily have control over all our things whether it be money, food, or possessions.
How do you teach this to toddlers and preschoolers? Well, sharing isn't really sharing when it is forced; therefore, we used the strategy of "taking turns." Additionally, children (like adults) are not able to put something down when immediately asked. Even as adults, it takes us a moment to put aside something we are currently working on. Children are even more fix minded. Time is something children struggle to comprehend; therefore, we combined the two difficult mindsets--time and turn taking-- into one lesson. For example: When there was a need for a child (#1) to "take a turn," we coached the child (#2) who wanted the turn to ask, "May I have a turn in 2 minutes?" This gave the child (#1) holding the item a chance to finish playing before giving the item up.
I have used this tactic in both professional and personal environments with much success. Within our personal household, all toys and bedroom supplies are shared between the sisters; however, each child has their own "special place" aka a shelf. On this shelf, our children were able to store very personal belongings in which the other siblings had to request use of; such as necklaces, special toys, notes, money, or pencils/pens. This "special place" gave my children the opportunity to have something personal in which they were in control of "sharing" without Mom and Dad insisting on turn taking. My older girls have learned to share shoes, clothes, books, jewelry, and makeup among other things; but, always with rules. Examples of their rules are:
1. If you want to borrow an item, you must ask.
2. The person borrowing the item must return it to it's rightful place.
3. If you break it, you replace it.
We agree with rules because it creates a sense of responsibility and encourages the girls to respect one another's items without entitlement.
We've had many occasions in which we must revisit the Word of God as it applies to our possessions; however, this is a lesson we all, not just my children, revisit. Our possessions our not our own; rather, they are all to be used to glorify God.