Managing greed and encouraging kids to share
Storyberries offers free children's books and parenting suggestions for promoting these valuable skills.
Greed is the excessive desire to acquire, consume or possess. It is related to envy – feeling hostility towards someone else who is seen to have more advantage. Envy can carry feelings of sadness, anger, jealousy or resentment. It is usually felt most in children who find it hard to get their needs met; and therefore feel frustrated or insecure, and is often connected to low self esteem.
Even from a very young age we can see envy playing out in children. They might express it in the form of squabbles and tantrums, when they can’t have something they want. If unchecked; feelings of greed, jealousy or envy can grow and intensify over time.
It is not easy for young children to understand the concept of property or to distinguish what is theirs, and what belongs to someone else. If something catches their attention, they take it as if it were their own. They can also find it hard to lend their belongings to others. Forcing children to share is unhelpful – children may see the forced act as a form of punishment; it can spark resentment instead of generosity, thus causing the opposite of what was intended.
Children need to learn to ask for what they want, and also to be helped to understand that at times their requests will be refused. In this article, Storyberries offers free books and practical suggestions for encouraging sharing and co-operation.
Talking about sharing in an age-appropriate wayYoung children will not understand the concept of sharing or its implications. Just tell them it’s good and encourage them to share. With older children we can encourage empathy and compassion for the child who doesn’t have what they have, thus delving deeper into the implications of sharing. By helping our children understand the feelings and realities of those around them, we can naturally foster the value of sharing.
Try not to worry – it takes time to learn to share!Learning to share is a long process, with normal setbacks. Most of us learn best when we are feeling relaxed, so it helps if, as adults, we can let go of our own worries and frustration.
Notice when kids are sharing wellTelling children they are selfish does not help them to share. Labels, far from helping, make situations worse. If a child hears repeatedly they are selfish, they will end up believing it, and that of course is what we want to avoid! Instead, you might say “I love seeing you being generous with your toys!” or “Look how happy your friend Charlie is when you share with him!”
Encourage kids to play togetherChildren learn best when learning is playful and practical. Arrange for your child to play as much as possible with more children (if there are older children who already know how to share, even better).
Being a role model ourselvesWe can set a positive example, and be a mirror for our children, by being generous ourselves.
Share your gifts with the world!Participating in community activities that promote solidarity and generosity, and inviting the children to participate as much as possible. In this way we can help them to recognise the privileges, strengths and resources they have, and give them confidence that their sharing is making a positive difference to their own and other people’s lives.
Muncha Buncha LunchaKids will love this poem about a child with the nickname of Luncha Buncha who can’t help eating everyone else’s lunches! The minute their backs are turned, Muncha Buncha eats everything, in all sorts of funny combinations! A great poem for talking about greed, personal belongings and sharing.
NumpurrsCome and see how twenty adorable cats work together to create a wonderful feast. A super book to encourage sharing and co-operation. It’s also a brilliant book for young readers who are learning to count.
Greedy PigEveryone in the Guts family loves spaghetti night! Peter Guts is so excited, and so keen to eat lots, that he doesn’t notice that something very unusual is happening! His brothers do, and between them they learn the valuable lesson of sharing.
Article by Luzmery M. Romero Gamboa and Fleur Rodgers
Luzmery works in the area of clinical psychology as a psychotherapist for children, adolescents and families. Since 2016, she has run a Psychological Center in Venezuela called Psicoluz. She offers workshop facilitations to parents, is involved in recreational activities for children, and has been working as a freelancer since 2017 performing online psychotherapy.
Fleur is a meditation teacher in France and uses a compassion and loving-kindness based approach to meditation and slow-minded living. Fleur posts regularly to Instagram @rodgers.fleur . She has two children, is a qualified teacher in adult education and is the founder of Timeouttobreathe.com