Posted by Alina on Thursday Nov 19, 2009 Under communication, useful tips

sharingI recently went to a workshop organized by some of my mama friends about “positive discipline”. I found it quite interesting and thought I’d share one of the things I learned. My question to the instructor was about sharing, and what is considered proper playground etiquette. When my 19 month old son and I are out at a park, I feel this pressure to make him share his toys with kids who come up and are interested in them. My son, however, usually resists and sometimes gets to tears, which is when I just leave the issue alone.  I don’t know why I feel this pressure, perhaps because other parents are making similar requests of their kids, or because it seems like a “nice thing to do”.

The instructor answered it with a great metaphor. She said, “Imagine you are getting ready for your day. You’re feeling groggy, just stood in a line, finally got your long awaited cappuccino, and as you are about to take the first sip, someone tells you that you have to hand it over to the person next to you…”  Her point was, that until kids are in their 3’s, they don’t really get the whole sharing thing. She said not to MAKE him share, but rather to PRAISE him when he does so of his own volition. She also said this is a good age to be working on turn taking, and the same logic can be applied to toys. “It’s Henry’s turn to play with the toy right now, but you can have a turn when he is finished”.

One big point of this lecture was PRAISE . To be most effective it should be immediate, include touch (on the shoulder, pat on the back, a kiss, whatever you choose….), and be specific. Praise seems to be the positive reinforcement that makes the greatest difference when trying to alter a behavior, whether with kids or adults.

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