At this time of year when kids are getting new toys sometimes refereeing is the never-ending game of which toy belongs to whom. These steps can help you spend more time playing and less time blowing the whistle.
Step One Set aside a specific time when you will interact and play with your children. Young children learn and remember best when a parent works with them directly for consistent periods of time.
Step Two Suggest some toys to play with, and help your children get them out.
Step Three Bring the toys to an open area so you all have room to play.
Step Four Establish a positive and constructive play activity while letting your children remain in control of their play. If you want your children to play with blocks instead of climbing on the furniture, start building a tower.
Step Five Monitor your children and their play. Watch for an older sibling teasing a younger one. Keep mental notes of how long a turn one child takes with a toy other siblings want to play with.
Step Six If one child takes a toy from another, give the upset child a toy the other child likes. If she also tries to take away that toy, tell her she must give one of the two toys to the upset child. Explain that sharing is fair.
Step Seven If a child refuses to share toys, place her in a time-out area - a predesignated spot, separate from the play area, where she can be alone, calm down, and get ready to return in a more cooperative mood. She must give the upset child a toy and apologize before returning to play.
Step Eight Praise your child for sharing or helping independently. Say things like, 'What a good sharer you are. Nice manners!'
Step Nine Follow these steps during playtime and use them during the course of the day to reinforce the skill of sharing.
Tips & Warnings
Maintain a calm, neutral tone when explaining how sharing works: 'It is nice manners to share. Look how Tommy gets upset when you take away a toy. Please be nice and share with your brother.'
Try to use positive terms by telling your children what you want them to do instead of telling them what you don't want them to do. For example, say 'Please give Tommy a truck to play with' instead of 'Don't take that away!'