4 Things to Remember when Teaching Kids to Share
Jerry Seinfeld and Kevin Hart aren't just funny and famous - they're also parents.
In a conversation they had before a camera, Kevin Hart mentioned a question his daughter asked him:
"Dad, are we rich?"
Fearing she'd get a big head, Hart tried to respond by helping her understand that they had nice things because of his years of hard work.
Jerry Seinfeld offered another response:
"You know what I say [to my kids] to that question? 'I am... you're not.'"
Most of us understand the tension between wanting to offer our kids a better life than we had growing up and fearing the sense of entitlement it might create in them. Kevin Hart explained how he's observed this hurdle in his own family:
Hart: "The things that made me who I am my kids will never experience."
Seinfeld: "That's right. It's going to be different for them. Your problem was, 'Things are bad... I gotta make it good.'"
Seinfeld: "Their problem's gonna be 'Things are good... why do I feel bad?'"
I'm still chewing on that incredible zinger at the end by Seinfeld.
Because having stuff doesn't equal having peace.
One thing Jesus emphasized over and over again is that genuine humility and generosity push back against our culture, for "you cannot serve both God and money." (Matthew 6:24)
We can help our kids understand this message by intentionally leading them into opportunities that help them think of others' needs before their own.
One of the first steps to begin building a foundation of selflessness in our kids, as frustrating as it can often be, is by teaching them to share--and modeling it ourselves.
Here are 4 tips for parents to consider when it comes to teaching kids to share:
- Remember their age: Before you convince yourself your 3-year-old is a sociopath because they haven't grasped the concept of sharing, remember that no one's preschooler is going to win the Nobel Peace Prize for mastering this skill. Your kid's capacity to share depends on where he or she is developmentally, as it's more natural at younger ages to think of oneself than it is to think of others. Give it time if they're on the younger end, and gently reinforce the practice of sharing by "trading" items with them during playtime and talking about it in a positive way.
- Give them options: There will naturally be some things kids need to share more than others. You can help them to understand what you expect these things to be. For example, "I want you to share the trampoline with your siblings and friends, but this bike is yours to share with others as you want."
- Model it personally: Look for opportunities for you or your family to share with others in a way that everyone in the household can see. Maybe it involves giving up your bed when relatives come over or loaning an extra family vehicle to friends who need transportation. Celebrate this out loud, not to boast, but to recognize that it's right and joyful to share.
- Tell the Story: God not only offers to share eternity with us, but he shares gifts and abilities with us. We're made in his image, which means anything good we do is because he's shared it with us. Point out to your kids that the money, talents, and time we have actually belong to him, and he's entrusted us to manage them by being generous to others.
What if parenting is more than getting your kids to share stuff?
What if it's sharing opportunities that cause your kids to see stuff differently?
To amend Seinfeld's earlier comment, "I'm rich with certain experiences... you're not yet. Let me show you how you can be."
How are you navigating this tension in your home?