Not too long ago, I spoke with a young boy who really enjoys the playing the Wii. Perhaps as much as life itself.

That may be a little too much.

Recently, this family had some friends over and the visiting kids wanted to play the Wii also. Cue the tension-producing background music. The minute my young friend realized that these kids, this pack of marauding intruders, wanted to play HIS Wii, he simply could not stand the injustice.

My young friend threw a fit.

Have you been there?

Sharing seems to run counter to a basic child-like instinct to keep and protect what is “ours.” However, it is a bridge that every child must cross and lesson they must learn if they want to develop friends and get along with others. As usual, the best time to begin teaching this lesson is when your kids are young. Here are a few ideas that will help:

1) Require sharing. When my boys were young, I can remember often saying, “If you are going to have this toy, then you are going to have to be willing to share it with your brother.” Now, that doesn’t mean your kids have to share everything all the time, but it does indicate that with a few exceptions, sharing our belongings with others is the way we roll.

2) Not everything, all the time. It is helpful to let your kids know that there are times when it is okay not to share. For example, there may be a few very special items that they want to use exclusively, like a brand new toy or a special teddy bear. Or perhaps your child is in the middle of making a LEGO creation and he does not want his brother to tear it down right now. Your child may also be rightfully wary of kids who play with items in a rough and reckless way, and therefore could damage some of his belongings. It is important to let your child know that in these situations, his best option is not to throw a fit, but to come and talk to you about it.

3) Discuss the reason for sharing. It is important to let your kids know WHY sharing is a good thing. We always emphasized that sharing was a great way to be friendly and to make friends. It was also treating others the way you wanted them to treat you, which is what God tells us to do (e.g., the Golden Rule). These reasons are important because they are true, and your kids will find that others enjoy playing with them more when they share in a friendly way.

There may be a few fits and tears along the way, but sharing is a lesson that is worth it in the long run. Sharing says that I care more about people than privileges. It is the lesson that my little friend who loves the Wii must also learn. Playing the Wii will be far more fun if he can learn to share his fun with others.

How have you helped your kids learn to share?

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