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  • Teaching Kids to Play Fair

    Teach your child how to share her toys in every situation (plus, what to do when toy fights erupt).
    by Paula Abiog .
  • Sharing in playgroups
    A public play area or playgroups are the perfect avenues for teaching kids about sharing. Toys in public areas are for everybody. ”Tell your kids that if they share their toys, other kids will also learn to share theirs,” says Le Trexie Burgos, human resource manager of Little Martians, a day-care and play center. Having a regular playgroup can also help enhance this value because it allows children to be familiar and comfortable with each other. “Fights usually ensue because children do not know and trust each other,” adds Vasquez-Estuesta. Before the playdate, it would also be good to ask your child to keep her favorite toys - those she does not want to lend. Then ask her to help you choose which ones everyone can play with. Bring out toys that are meant for sharing such as cooking sets, board games, and puzzles.

    Marie likes to ask Riley’s playmates to bring a few toys over, too. ”When my son sees that there are ’new‘ toys to play with at home, he voluntarily lends some of his toys so he could borrow the ’new' ones,” she says.

    Rules of play
    Another way to avoid toy fights? Set rules. ”No one can play with the train unless you both learn to share.” ”If you bring that ball to Lola’s, you must be ready to share it with others. If not, just leave it at home.”

    The most important thing to remember when setting rules is to be consistent. ”Rules should be clearly stated and implemented fairly. Once these rules are bent, children will no longer take them seriously,” says Vasquez-Estuesta.

    Here are other strategies to keep fights and tantrums at bay:

    1. Give your kids plenty of one-on-one time with you.
    This prevents jealousy among kids, so they don’t feel the need to fight for your attention. ”I set ’dates‘ with each of my sons during the week. We play, eat, and read stories together for an hour or two in the afternoon. This way, they get equal bonding time with me. Our Sundays are sacred; it’s our time to bond as a family,” says Marla.
    2. Avoid taking sides.
    Instead, be a peacemaker; ask each child what caused the fight, and help them reach an agreement. “Whenever my boys fight, I ask each one what happened, and I try not to pin the blame on one child. We try to resolve the fight, but if they’re being stubborn, both get a time-out,” says Marla.

    3. Let kids express how they feel – and make sure to listen.
    “Allowing your children to express how they feel about the situation will make them realize that the fight may be more about their inability to express their needs,” says Vasquez-Estuesta.

    4. Model good behavior.
    Children learn proper behavior from parents, teachers, and guardians, so make sure to show them positive examples. “Do not punish an aggressive child by being aggressive in return; this simply reinforces the bad behavior,” says Vasquez-Estuesta.

    5. Play games that promote sharing.
    Engaging in group games, such as throwing and catching balls, allows kids to experience the fun in giving. “As he sees his playmate having fun catching the ball, the child feels good for making his playmate happy. And when the playmate throws the ball back, the child feels the fun of sharing and playing together,” explains Vasquez-Estuesta.


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