Do You Share in Front of Your Preschooler?

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I believe that sharing with others is very important. As a parent, one of our often-heard pleas is “Please share!” We struggle to teach our preschoolers the meaning of true sharing, and it’s hard. After all, preschoolers are just starting to realize that other people have feelings, and they are still very much the center of their own universe. Sharing can be very difficult.

Today, we visited a restaurant and a park in a part of the city that we love to visit. As we entered the restaurant, a man was standing outside. He looked hungry. I prefer to give people food and bus tickets when they are in need, so I asked him if he wanted anything from the restaurant. He told me what he’d like, we bought it, and my daughter and I brought it out to him.

The one thing that I’ve learned from talking with those who are homeless is that people don’t look at them like fellow people. It must be very difficult to be someone whom others look past and will not engage in conversation or a simple “hello”. So I make a point of walking up to people, chatting briefly, and asking if I can help. Sometimes people say no, sometimes people say yes, often we talk briefly, wish each other a good day, and go on our separate ways.

As parents, sharing is something we model. If I walk past people who are hungry, or if I say things that are not kind, then that is what my daughter learns from my behavior. If I ask someone what they would like to eat because they are hungry, then that sends a message too. The discussion with a preschooler about this doesn’t need to be one about social injustices. My daughter said the man looked hungry, and I said I thought that he was hungry too, but that perhaps he didn’t have enough money right now to buy food, so we got him some food. That makes sense to a preschooler. That’s about sharing.

You likely donate to worthy organizations and you might volunteer for them too. Is this something that is private, or do you discuss it with your preschooler? Do you do these activities with your preschooler? The other night I donated to the Red Cross’s fund for Haiti. I did this in private, in the evening, because it was a computer thing. However, when we heard about Haiti on the radio, my daughter and I talked about what people might need, and I tried to involve her in choosing the charity.

Helping others sets up a model of sharing that your preschooler can follow. Have you shared in front of your preschooler lately? Did you involve him in the decision about how to share?