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MINE-itis Strikes Sesame Street

By Jackie Burrell
Friday, October 24th, 2008 at 3:37 pm in TV.

Brian Williams interviews Bert (photo courtesy of Sesame Street Workshop)Aww, too cute. NBC anchor Brian Williams brings his crack reporting to “Sesame Street” today after reports emerge that a mine-itis epidemic has broken out among the Muppet crowd. No one’s sharing anymore. Word is, even Williams was infected by the super contagious bug and that it was Oscar who saved him.

Oscar was probably working off the family sharing tips sheet from Sesame Workshop researchers Jane Park Woo and Autumn Zitani Stefano, who say that “mine-itis” is actually “a normal part of being a toddler. Young children at this age are naturally egocentric. They cognitively don’t understand others’ perspectives and concepts, like sharing, until around 3 years of age.” Here are their top five ways to encourage sharing and turn-taking, in an age-appropriate way:

1. Gently encourage sharing. It may be best if you don’t ask or require your child to share a toy that is special to him or has just been purchased.
If you are having other children over, try putting that item away, and provide other choices. Headed for the park or sandbox? Try bringing two trucks or shovels so he can play and share. Your child “may feel more empowered to share and take turns,” say Woo and Stefano, “when he can make his own decisions.”

2. Lead by example. Say something when you notice children sharing — “Oh, look. Jane and Autumn are sharing a book and looking at the pictures together!” Show your child that you have respect for her toys and belongings too.

3. Set clear expectations. If children are having trouble taking turns with a single toy, for example, set a timer. After one minute, it’s the other child’s turn and the timer is re-set.

4. Make sharing fun. Involve your child in cooperative games and activities such as planting a garden, doing an art project, cooking, putting together a puzzle, or building block towers together.

5. Use positive reinforcement. When your child shares or takes turns, praise him and say, “Thank you for sharing with me,” or “I love how you took turns with Mindy. You’re a good friend!”

More suggestions? Click comments and, well, share!

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