Step Explain and Reinforce Alternative Attitudes

Research shows that kids who share, take turns, and take into consideration the requests of peers usually do so because their parents clearly emphasized that they expect them to. Take time to spell out your ground rules for sharing and cooperation, and explain them to your child. Then expect your kid to use them. Here are examples of how parents have spelled out their requirements for less bossiness and more cooperation:

• Explain taking turns. If you want your younger kid to take turns and share, clarify your expectations. For taking turns, use this wording: "Let's make sure to take turns when we play.You go first, and then it'll be Sally's turn and then mine." Sharing can use this phrasing: "Share your computer game so Ryan has a chance to play. He doesn't want to just watch you, so switch sides every ten minutes."

• Set one sharing rule. One dad passed on his rule: "If it belongs to you and it's in sight, then you must share it." There are certain possessions that are very special to your child, so putting those items away before a guest arrives minimizes potential conflicts.

• Compromise. Describe what it means to your older kid: "When you compromise, it means you're willing to give up a little of what you want, and the other person is too. It's a less bossy way to solve a problem because each person can have at least part of what he wants." He should understand that each person always has the opportunity to present his side, and when he does, he should be listened to. That way, everyone tends to feel more satisfied.

• Negotiate. Show your older child how to work out the shared use of the family computer so that everyone's interests and goals are met in a timely manner: "Let's work together to make a schedule that's fair for all of us and everyone gets what they need. That's what it means to negotiate."

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