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By Patricia Berry

Luca Campbell, age four, didn't want to give up his bedroom to a visitor. Who could blame him? He'd worked hard helping his mom Alison, of Allentown, Pa. set up his space just the way he liked it. Now, Grandma was moving in for a few days -- and Luca was moving out. Eventually, he helped get the room ready, making space in his closet and putting out the guest towels, but it was a big step for him.

Misgivings about sharing among toddlers and preschoolers aren't just predictable -- they're perfectly natural. At this age, a child's instincts are to horde and protect what he thinks of as his, says January Handl, director of Mulberry School in Los Gatos, Calif. "Our job, as grown-ups, is to plant the seeds of empathy," says Handl. "We can't stop them from wanting not to let go of their possessions, but we can help them see how good they can make other people feel."

Rather than wait for a sandbox scuffle, Handl suggests looking for sharing moments throughout the day. Avoid taking a toy or object from your child to give to another, and don't force him to share. Instead, look for opportunities to give positive reinforcement, such as, "see how happy you've made your baby sister by letting her play with your teddy."

Here are some other tips for encouraging the generous spirit within your child:
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Categories: Toddlers, Pre-Schoolers, Children,

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