Sharing Activities for Kids

Sharing activities for kids is a great way to help children overcome selfishness, and foster a love of sharing with their siblings and other children they encounter during their day. The more a parent takes strides to build character in a child, especially before the opposite character flaw presents itself, the easier it can be on both the parents and the child.

Sharing Activities for Kids | www.joyinthehome.com

Sharing Activities for Kids

I often see children and adults, even in my own family, prefer themselves over their siblings or friends all the time. The lack of caring for others is prevalent in our society, but most parents just don’t know how to teach their children to share. I’m hoping that these sharing activities can become part of your parenting, and making this character trait become second nature in your family.

Communicate Sharing In Your Language

I love using vocabulary very early in a child’s life that will help them identify their actions with words.

At a very young age, even before one year, a child demonstrates sharing naturally. They love to feed people their food, hand them their toys to play with them, and even take turns naturally.

I have found that saying things like ‘Thank you for sharing with me’, ‘You are so sweet to share’, and ‘You are being so good to share turns with me’, will build a connection to sharing and their actions.

However, when parents aren’t using these natural tendencies as opportunities to build character on natural behavior, they create extra work for themselves down the road.

Encourage your children as soon as they can talk to tell others ‘Thank you for sharing’ whenever something is given to them. If you go to someone’s house and they feed you, be sure to thank them for sharing their food. If children shared their toys, be sure to have your children thank them. If someone spent their time with you, thank them for sharing their day with you.

The more a child can connect words and actions together, the activities of your day will open up the understanding to them quicker.

Donate Toys and Clothing Often

Nothing will teach sharing as easily as donating toys and clothes to families in need. This can become a family tradition a few weeks before Christmas to clean out unneeded toys and clothes. Sharing what you have with others that don’t have anything will be a life lesson that will last a life time.

Perhaps doing this around a child’s birthday is another time of the year that sharing can be demonstrated.

Borrowing Opportunities

Nothing says sharing like borrowing from others. A great way to illustrate this is with a library card, and showing your children the importance of taking good care of someone else’s things and taking them back in a good time. We have a special place just for library books, so we don’t lose them in our house (like we have in the past) and we take them back on time.

Another sharing activity is to borrow from friends.

Does a friend have a movie, toy or puzzle that your children really love to do when they go to their house? If so, talk with your friend about doing a borrowing swap for a week or two, at the most.  The children borrow from each other, taking good care of their friends things and returning it when it was first decided.

Playdate Sharing

Do you ever meet friends at a park, and pack a picnic lunch? A great way for kids to learn sharing during a time like this is to alternate snacks, and have the children pass out the snacks, as a way to share with each other.

Slides, swings and monkey bars are a great way to learn how to share by taking turns. Children love to be first, and have a hard time identifying how long they have had turns. A good way to help them learn this is to use a timer for swings, and other things at the park that take more time than others, and when the timer is up, it is the next child’s turn.

Playing Sharing Games

Sharing toys may be hard for a child, especially if they are new toys or favorite ones. In my parenting, we have found that creating a game around toys help children to really share even their favorite things with happiness.

Ball – Roll or kick the ball back and forth to each other.

Car or Truck – Roll it to each other, or build a road, and share the driving of the vehicle. One child is responsible for one area of the road, and the other child is responsible for the other portion.

Doll or Barbie – One child can care of the baby, while the other one gets a meal for the baby read and then take turns caring for the baby.

Other toys – divide the pieces, or parts.

Coloring – put a pile of crayons in the middle and have them pick their color. If they want the same one, put a time limit on that color so everyone can use it.

These are great sharing activities for siblings or friends to do together often, and will make a big difference in how they interact together.

Read Books About Sharing

A great activity to help cultivate a love of sharing with your children is to spend time reading them books that will help them learn to identify what sharing looks like, and what selfishness looks like. Books are powerful to children, because it helps them see how things looks in their own world.

Be sure to take time to discuss their thoughts about the book, to help them process the meanings and actions associated with sharing.



One thing that children need to learn NOT to share is germs. Have you taught your children how to keep their germs to themselves? If not these tips will help…

How to Teach Kids to Not Spread Germs - It isn't enough to teach your kids about germs, you need to teach them how to stop spreading it. | www.joyinthehome.com

How To Prepare Your Children to Stay Home Alone

Do you ever wonder how people leave their children home alone? As a mother of four, with over 21 years of experience, I have had to do this quite a few times. My first time doing it, I felt like my heart was going to jump out of my chest, and every imaginable thing that could happen was playing in my head. With experience, I found that the key to doing this successfully is about how to prepare your children to stay home alone, and these tips will help you learn how to do this naturally and with less stress.

How to Prepare Your Children to Stay Home Alone - Be sure your kids are ready before you leave them alone. | www.joyinthehome.com

How to Prepare Your Children to Stay Home Alone

That very first time that we left our children at home was a spare of the moment situation that my husband wanted to take me for a ride on his new motorcycle. I told him that I couldn't because of the children, and he insisted that our oldest could handle the situation for 30 minutes, and my husband can be very persuasive, so I gave in.

Prior to leaving, I made sure they knew not to answer the door or the phone until we came back. The three of them, the oldest being a very mature 12 year old, all agreed and watched us drive away from the window.

Immediately, as we drove away, my mind went through all kinds of things that could have happened in my absence and the stress was building. My husband was having a wonderful time, as I was imagining neighbors turning us in to the CPA for child neglect, much like the scene that Allison played out in the Mom's Night Out movie.

Our first trip only lasted for about 10 minutes, and to my horror, my mother-in-law and brother-in-law came while we were gone and my children wouldn't answer the door, passing their first test with flying colors, however my in-laws could hear them inside the house the whole time.

I knew that there was some preparation I needed to do to prepare our children to stay home alone, because my husband made it clear that we were meant to take many of these rides on the weekend.

Focus On Their Interaction

One of the most stressful things about leaving your children home alone is how they interact with each other. If you have a lot of strife in your home while you are there, it will only increase in your absence. I know this for a fact because my own brother would get physically mean when my parents were gone, and because of this experience, we didn't permit our children to hit one another, ever.

We also didn't allow our children to boss each other, as they are equals, regardless of their ages. We instructed them to encourage each other if one of them were struggling with obedience or their responsibilities, but they were not allowed to usurp authority over each other.

This made it easier when we would leave them home alone, but we still needed our oldest to be ‘in charge', so we had them memorize the verse, “Obey those that have the charge or rule over you.” (Hebrews 13:17) We would have our oldest be the one in charge, each time, and she tended to be bossy on normal days, so we needed to remind her that it is better to serve than be served, to teach her humility.

Set Guidelines for What Is Allowed During Your Absence

Having a list of things that they can and can't do while they are home alone will help a lot. From what they can watch, play, eat or call should all be on this list.

I learned this the hard way!

Many years ago, while I was speaking at a local MOPS meeting, I left my children home to do their school work and knowing that they have done this before, I didn't expect any issues but left my phone on just in case there was an emergency.

Right in the middle of my talk, my cell phone rings. It was home, and my heart raced! I apologized to the group of ladies, and answered it, to only find out that my 12 year old son wanted a mid-morning snack and wanted to be sure it was okay. I heard my 14 year old daughter in the back ground telling him that “I told you not to call her! You are going to be in trouble.”

My daughter was completely right!

Create a Family Phone Book

You never know what may happen while you are gone, and your children are left home by themselves, so having a phone book with numbers to neighbors, close friends and emergency numbers in a place where it can always be found is a tool that you may already have and use.

We went further with this and programmed important numbers into our phone, so they can easily dial it, in case of an emergency. This helped when our son had a febrile seizer and my older children had to help us get help immediately.

Keep Your Children Accountable

I can't stress how important it is to keep your children accountable the moment you return home. Always take at least a few minutes to ask each of them how things went, and if you need to deal with any issues. Having this accountability will allow all the other preparations to stay in place, and will allow all your children to know that the system in place is there for a purpose and you will ensure it stays that way.

Enforce any consequences immediately, and remind those that had issues that the next time you leave them home, you may add consequences if the same issues arise in your absence.

Don't forget to praise your children for following the guidelines and working together as a family!

Once our family had these preparations in place, my husband and I had more freedom to take advantage of babysitting aged children, and went on more dates with each other, and our time away grew as our trust in our children proved itself.

I still have crazy thoughts that come into my mind of all the possible things that could go wrong, but I will have to write about that another day.

I would love to hear any tips that has helped you prepare your children to stay home alone!

 

Stop the Interrupting While Giving Your Child Your Attention

If you have a child, you have daily interrupting, whether it is while you are on the phone, talking to another adult, writing an email or text, talking to another of your children, or deep in thought. It happens to us all. Here are some tips to stop the interrupting while giving your child your attention, and doing it with one easy rule.

Stop the Interrupting While Giving Your Child Your Attention - One simple rule that can make all the difference with dealing with a child who loves to have your attention and continues to interrupt to get it. | www.joyinthehome.com
Stop the Interrupting While Giving Your Child Your Attention

Child are full of ideas, and exciting things to say. They aren't skilled at holding their thoughts for long, and because of this lack of training, they want to tell someone about it the moment it comes to their mind or they may lose the idea all together. This is the reason behind the constant interrupting that happens in a child's life.

Most of the time, it is the mom that bears the blunt of these interruptions and many times, we as moms, can become unaware of how it can affect the way others feel when you allow these interruptions to be a consistent distraction to a conversation they are trying to have with you.

Many years ago, my husband and I took a parenting class that taught a simple rule that will help children learn how to properly interrupt and in doing so, gets your full attention in a polite way for those you are in a conversation with or giving the opportunity to allow attention to shift to them.

This one simple rule is called ‘the interrupt rule'.

Depending on how consistent you are with implementing the interrupt rule, you can make a world of difference really fast. The thing that I love most about this rule is that it demonstrates how important your child's ideas and thoughts are you to, while respecting others at the same time.

Here is how the interrupt rule works:

A child is taught to ‘interrupt' or ‘get your attention' with their hand, not their mouth. 

How this looks is very simple. Your son wants your attention to tell you something that is important to him, but you are listening to a friend talking with you. Your son may not realize he would be interrupting, because you aren't talking, but by learning to use his hand to get your attention, you will become aware he wants or needs you while still respecting you and those you are talking with.

The parent is taught to ‘confirm their desire' by placing your hand over theirs, but this doesn't give them the permission to talk just yet. 

If your child has ever repeated “Mom” several times because you didn't respond to them right away, you can turn this gentle gesture of a hand placed on your arm with a repeated ‘hitting' to get your attention. Teaching your child from the beginning that you know they want your attention, and you will give them it as soon as you by just placing your hand on theirs, is all the reassurance they need.

Be sure that your child fully understands that your response to his or her hand isn't the permission to talk, but your assurance to listen in just a moment.

The parent then gives complete attention as quickly as possible by giving eye contact and keep it with their child.

It is so important that you reward your child that has learned to implement the interrupt rule your attention as quickly as you can. The younger they are, their idea or thought is quickly lost, so waiting more than a few seconds can prove too long for them to remember, and will only frustrate them with this method and they will resent using it.

It is really important that use this opportunity to demonstrate how to be polite to others who are speaking, and show them how to use the phrase ‘excuse me', when interrupting another person that you are in conversation with.

Prior to looking your child in the eyes, say “Excuse me for a minute, my son needs my attention.”

 

Next, look at your child in their eyes, and that is the only thing they need to know that they not only have the permission to interrupt, but now has your full attention. Keep your eyes on them, as you would the person that was just talking, and when he or she is finished speaking, be sure to praise them for their proper use of the ‘interrupt rule'.

You will need to instilling the interrupt rule when it isn't done correctly. 

Children will need a lot of practice to do this correctly, so be sure to be patient and allow others to know that you are in the training stages and to have patience with you for any extended interruptions while you are working to create character in your child.

When your child doesn't use the interrupt rule correctly, stop him or her immediately, even though you may be demonstrating an interruption yourself. Then follow through with a need for an apology to the person speaking. “Manual, you interrupted Mrs. Jones. Please apology to her and use your interrupt rule.” At the same time, you will want to take their hand and place it on your arm.

As a courtesy to the other person, allow the child your attention after the apology is done. Prior to giving your attention back to the adult, remind him or her that he needs to use it properly or he will need to practice his self-control for 5 minutes.

Interrupting for an emergency requires one more step.

It didn't take too long for me to see the need for another step to this interrupt rule that we learned, and that was when my attention was needed due to a hurt child, but I didn't know it was that important and required my child to wait nearly a minute for the opportunity for my attention. I felt horrible!

That day, we implemented the emergency interrupting rule, that follows the exact same steps but instead of placing the hand on my arm, they place it on my shoulder and will get my attention the moment they do that.

It works AMAZINGLY!

The interrupting rule works for adults as well!

The way of interrupting works so well that I have used it to interrupt my husband or other adults when I need their attention during a conversation. My older children still use it from time to time, as well.

The Interrupt Rule Teaches - One simple step to stopping the interrupting, while demonstrating how much your child's words matter to you. | www.joyinthehome.com

 

 

How to Build Kindness in the Formative Years

If you have a toddler or a preschooler you can understand how important it is to build kindness in the formative years.  With four children, ranging from 5 to young adult ages, I know first hand how beneficial this focus in parenting can help you on a daily basis.

How to Build Kindness in the Formative Years = Character building in toddlers and preschoolers are so important for their development. | www.joyinthehome.com

In addition to teaching my children great scriptures to aid them in their natural tendencies that this age group faces, I implemented other things in building kindness in toddlers that proved to be beneficial.

How to Build Kindness in the Formative Years

Building kindness in toddlers and preschoolers is such an easy task, if you are consistant at the start of seeing the opposite in their actions. If you start after bad habits are already formed, you will have a harder task in front of you, but still one that can be accomplished. Regardless of where you are with your toddlers or preschoolers, these tips can really help build kindess in them.

  1. Teach Vocabulary in Context – Only use the word or derivatives when working on building a character trait, so the toddler can begin building an understanding of what the word means.  For example, “Suzie, you are being so ‘kind' to share your toys with Bobby.”  And the opposite, “Suzie, you are being ‘unkind' (or not kind) when you don't share your toys with Bobby.”  Repetition of using the word and its derivatives, in different situations, helps the youngest of child to understand its meaning and the actions associated with the words. 
  2. Play games for Illustration – Play is a strong teachers and one that easily can be used to teach toddlers the concept of the character trait being worked on.  Consider this twist of these game that can be fun and exciting for the whole family to play: everyone sits in a circle (like in Hot Potato or Duck, Duck, Goose) and you have an object that will be passed from person to person.  You will need one person who sits out and is blind folded or cannot see who has the object in their hand. The group in the circle will pass the object around while the ‘person in charge' tells them to ‘be kind'.  As in Hot Potato, they want to move the object quickly.  When the ‘person in charge' wants the object to stop, they would say ‘be unkind' and the person holding the object must hold it and not ‘share' it.  That person is out and becomes the new ‘person in charge'.  You can do the same idea with Duck, Duck, Goose, but change the words to Kind, Kind, Unkind.
  3. Great books for Kindness – My favorite character building books are Captain Kind from Character Classics and Character Sketches
  4. Always Praise Kindness – A child thrives on praises, so don't underestimate the power of pointing out the smallest acts of kindness.  The same should also be said of pointing out unkind acts as well and having appropriate consequences for the undesired acts.

Remember, consistency is key to success in building kindness in toddlers and preschoolers.

If you like this post, you may like How to Build Self-Control in the Formative Years

How to Build Self Control In The Formative Years - These tips will help you grow self control in your toddlers and preschoolers. | www.joyinthehome.com

 

How to Build Responsibility in the Formative Years

What do you visualize when you think about responsibility? Does your little ones come to mind? Learning how to build responsibility in the formative years will help your children develop the necessary life skills to be successful and appreciated.

How to Build Responsibility in the Formative Years - Teaching your toddlers and preschoolers how to be responsible can further their success in life and build their self-confidence early. | www.joyinthehome.com

What mom wouldn't love having their toddlers and preschoolers learning about responsibilities?  Building responsibility isn't that difficult with a few steps that have proven to work with my four children and should be able to work with yours.

How to Build Responsibility in the Formative Years:

How to Build Responsibility in the Formative Years - Teaching your toddler or preschooler how to be responsible can further their success in life and build their self-confidence early. | www.joyinthehome.com

  1. I start YOUNG – Honestly, the best way is when they are too young to know that ‘work isn't fun'.  The age when toddlers want to do everything you do is the best time to start training responsibilities in your children. Having them participate in your chores makes them feel grown up and part of the family.
  2. I do NOT expect PERFECTION – I give them responsibilities that aren't needing to be perfect. Adding praise more than showing them where they missed, which creates a desire to keep helping around the house. Often times, when the children were completely unaware of what I was doing, I would go behind them and touch up, if it mattered to me.
  3. I invite them to be a part of WHAT I'M DOING – Observation is a great teacher.  Having a young child observing and attempting to do what you do is the best way for them to grow up with the skill from a young age.
  4. Creating a fun CHECKLIST – My children have loved checking off things and using stickers when accomplishing things. You can start with having a picture to represent their responsibility, i.e. bed for making their bed, toys for picking up toys, table for setting the table, dog for feeding the pet, windows for cleaning windows (my 3 year old LOVES this job and has now claimed it as his responsibility) and clothes on the floor for picking up their clothes.
  5. Praise them ALL DAY LONG – Each time your toddler or preschooler does a responsibility, praise them for the job they did.  The praise is one of the best fuel you can give to your child when building responsibility in them.

I encourage you to start small and have fun. Before you know it, you will have a responsible toddler or preschooler helping you around the house with a smile and asking if they can help you with more.

If you liked these tips, you may also like How to Build Attentiveness in the Formative Years

How to Build Attentiveness in the Formative Years - Tips to help you build character in your toddlers and preschoolers, while they are in their formative years. | www.joyinthehome.com

 

 

How to Build Patience in the Formative Years

If you have a little one in your home, you know that patience is not something that comes naturally for them.  They have been trained from birth that when they needed or wanted something that it was provided quickly. No wonder that patience in toddlers and preschoolers is a character trait that is lacking. However, it is important to build patience in the formative years, and this post will help you learn how.

How to Build Patience in the Formative Years - These tips will help you learn how to build this important character trait in your toddlers and preschoolers. | www.joyinthehome.com

How to Build Patience in the Formative Years:

These are things that we have used to train our children in the habit of patience. What is really important, and humorous, for this character trait to take place in our children is for the ability for parents to demonstrate patience as well.

    • Build their ability to wait – As our children get around two or three years old, there is a shift in things that they desire and demand from us.  It is around this age that we begin to have them wait.
    • Introduce the concept of time – Start introducing things that part of their normal routine that they have to wait for. “Daddy will be home in a few minutes… in an hour”; “Church is in 3 days”; “You get a cookie after you finish dinner”. The more they have the concept of time, and having to wait for things, the more patience is being built.
    • Demonstrate Self Control – When patience is difficult, we require our young children to sit with their hands folded, which is known as ‘self-control‘ in our home. This also gives them the ability to calm down and relax a little bit to gain some focus on the ability to being patience.
    • Do activities that require patience – Having a child learn that patience is required for much of our daily activity, can really make learning this character trait easier. A few activities that have helped a lot when learning patience are baking cookies, make ice cubes, planting flowers and boiling water. The more they learn about the process of time to learn something, the more they will be patient when they learn how to ride a bike, read or learn to form letters.
    • Make Patience a part of your vocabulary – The more you speak about patience in toddlers and preschoolers the more they will grab the understanding of what it means.  “You only need to be patient a little longer and Daddy will be home”; “Be patient for a few more minutes and you can enjoy one of the cookies we made”; “While you are patiently waiting for the ice cubes, why not look at some books“.
    • Praise every progress – Little ones just love hearing praises for even the smallest things that they are learning. Encouragement for even patiently waiting for 2 minutes will result in increased patience the next time it is required.  You can't over use praise!

You may also enjoy reading How to Build Attentiveness in the Formative Years

How to Build Attentiveness in the Formative Years - Tips to help you build character in your toddlers and preschoolers, while they are in their formative years. | www.joyinthehome.com