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Don't force sharing on the spot.
Don't force sharing on the spot. / Getty Images / Jill Giardino

Going against established rules may be the trick to well-adjusted kids, says Heather Shumaker, author of It’s OK NOT to Share... and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids. Her “contrary” tips are based on those taught at the School for Young Children in Columbus, Ohio.

Don’t share. Kids shouldn’t be told to automatically share toys. When well-meaning adults push sharing, it negates impulse control. Instead of forcing kids to give up a toy on the spot, let the child finish and be truly done, she says. When they are, the parent can then remind them another was waiting, and establish a system of taking turns.

Don’t play nice. Many kids bond with others through touch, and they learn to read others’ cues through rough play. “It’s a very social form of play,” said Shumaker. Instead of stopping them, relocate children to a play area and have them agree on rules, such as no shirt-pulling. “Researchers are realizing that roughhousing builds the part of the brain that helps develop academic skills later on,” she says.

Don’t forbid. Once kids hear a swear word or phrase a parent doesn’t like, such as “shut up” or potty talk, they may repeat it. “They don’t know what the words mean; all they know is that it gets a good reaction.” Instead of forbidding it, let kids say it as much as they want — in the bathroom. Responding calmly to such outbursts can help eliminate it.

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