Long about the age of 5, 6, or 7, kids start to understand the self-other dichotomy. They begin to realize that they live in their own bodies and have their own experiences and other people live in their own bodies and have their own experiences. It's Theory of Mind. It's a component of social understanding that those on the autistic spectrum lack or have only partially mastered.
- What the other person wants (that whole Theory of Mind/self-other dynamic) and;
- The concept of borrowing. Borrowing is a temporary status whereby the thing that is borrowed comes back to me.
Once these two concepts are mastered, sharing becomes more of the social contract we want to see between our kids. We can then encourage it and provide opportunities to practice.
Second, once this "morality" play takes place, you can talk about others' feelings and the social contract of sharing.
Until then, remove their favorite toys, warn your child that if they take their favorite truck to the park, then other kids will want to play with it and rehearse how they'll handle it.
As a parent, be prepared to be uncomfortable when other parents challenge you for not teaching your child to share. Be prepared with the information from this article to support your position that is, of course, if you are able to get a word in over their recriminations and accusations. Oh, how pleasant! Adults are one of the reasons I work with children. They benefit from teaching and experience!
I am encouraging you not to grab or take anything out of your child's hand and give it to another child or coerce them into sharing. If they're under the age of 7 or have disabilities that make them, from a developmental perspective, age 7 or less, expect them to struggle with the concept. If you violate the trust your child has in you to protect them and their feelings, you can understand how your relationship may require a "repair".
Wait until they're ready to be socialized in this way.
Just do the best you can, Claudia
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