How do I teach my 5-year-old only child to share her belongings with friends while they visit our home? She does great when she’s at her friend’s house or a neutral zone, such as a park. However, when any children her age or younger want something, she becomes very emotional and is so selfish.
Rehearsals and planning are important in helping children learn to share. When a friend is expected, go into the room where the children will play and remind your daughter that her friend will want to play with some of the toys there. Ask your daughter which ones she would be willing to share, saying casually that the rule is that her friend may play with any toys left in the room. If she identifies some toys as off-limits, say calmly, “Then we need to put these out of sight while ______ (the friend) is here. When a friend comes to your house to play, she will expect to play with some of your toys as she won’t have any of her own with her.”
If your daughter protests that she doesn’t want her friend to play with any of the toys, say firmly, “Then I’ll call her mother and tell her not to let her come over. That way we won’t have any arguments and quarrels about the toys.” This is an immediate non-reward for non-sharing; you can’t beat that.
In addition to this preparation for a visit, feel free to help her select toys she is willing to have available. Choose some that are more fun if played with by more than one person (household toys, games, etc.) and feel free to suggest these to her—and let her know why you are suggesting them. Then, be sure to watch or listen during part of the play session and praise her for any sharing you observe.
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.