It definitely isn't your proudest moment as a mother when your preschooler selfishly yells "Mine!" as he jerks the block from his playmate's hand. Or how about when your child refuses to share of any of his cookies with his supposed "best friend"? But this is normal behavior for a preschooler, as children are self-centered by nature. More than likely, though, you hope to teach your little one how to be a sharing and cooperative individual. You don't want your preschooler growing up to become the egotistical neighbor that everyone avoids, so try using some different activities to teach your little one the importance of not being selfish.
1. Board Games
Playing a board game is a sure way to teach your preschooler about sharing. In order for the game to progress in an orderly and fair fashion, no one can display any selfish behaviors. Try playing age-appropriate games such as Chutes and Ladders or Candy Land. Selfishness may emerge when your child becomes upset that she didn't draw the lollipop card she wanted, but this presents a prime opportunity to talk about fairness. Explain to her that she can't always get the card she wants, but it's important to be happy with whatever she gets.
2. Sharing Activities
Engage your little one in some activities that naturally call for sharing and taking turns. Pull out the crayons and glue to create an art project with your child. As you work, ask her for specific colors and praise her when she willingly shares them with you. When you both get hungry, head to the kitchen and create a snack together. Make a sandwich, taking turns as you work. Ask her to split the sandwich with you and again offer her praise for sharing.
3. Donating to Charity
Remember that you are one of your preschooler's biggest influences and when you demonstrate unselfishness, your child learns from you. So the next time you refuse to let your best friend borrow that new pair of boots, remember the example you are setting. To set a positive example, donate items to a local charity. As a family, gather up items that you no longer use and ask your preschooler to choose some old toys to donate. Discuss with your child the generosity he is demonstrating when he shares his belongings with those less fortunate.
There are a countless number of children's books that revolve around the concept of sharing and unselfishness. Head to your local library or bookstore and use these books to your benefit. Look for books such as "It's Mine" by Leo Lionni or "Share and Take Turns" by Cheri J. Meiners. Another well-known book that demonstrates the concept of selfishness and its negative consequences is "The Little Red Hen" by Byron Barton. After reading the books with your child, take time to discuss the concepts in the book, making sure your little one understands the lessons to be learned.
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