Teaching Your Children to Share

Teaching Your Children to Share

Young children like the idea of knowing what’s theirs, but dislike the idea of sharing these things / Photo by By Pixel-Shot via Shutterstock


Parents want to raise kind, generous, and responsible children. However, this is not an easy feat. Young children undergo stages of fighting, crying, and drama. One example is when they need to share.

Toddlers and preschoolers find it difficult to understand the concept of sharing. It is a skill that they learn, develop, and apply as they become older. Young children unwilling to share should not upset you, but inspire you to raise a child who knows what, why, and how to share.


A Familiar Scenario

Your child’s room is filled with toys. Whenever a cousin, a neighbor, or your friend’s child visits your house, your child becomes overprotective of all of their toys, favorite or not. The other child cries, but your child insists on not sharing. “These toys are mine,” they say.

This is a common scenario among families with toddlers. Young children like the idea of knowing what’s theirs, but dislike the idea of sharing these things. “Sharing is learned as children’s social, emotional, and cognitive development increases,” Betsy Mann, an Ottawa-based parent educator, said.

Different Types of Sharing

Parents should help their children understand that sharing has many forms. Sharing is when you let your cousin borrow your extra shirt that will be returned afterward. Sharing happens when you let your neighbor play with your toy, and then have your turn after a few minutes. Sharing is also observed when you give half or some of your food to your friend and do not expect to get something in return. All of these scenarios exhibit many ways to share what you have.


How to Teach Them to Share

Parents should not force their children to share, especially those under two years old. They should not scold their children, especially when they are in public places. Their toys may only be mere toys for adults like us, but for children, their toys are their prized possessions. So instead, parents should properly teach their children what sharing is, why it is done, and when to do it. The following tips can help you teach your children about sharing.

- Start early. You can teach your child how to share as soon as they can physically grasp an object. For example, your child is holding a ball. Teach them to pass the ball to you after you say, “My turn,” then return the ball to them after saying, “Your turn.” This is the first step in learning the skill of sharing.

Parents should not force their children to share, especially those under two years old / Photo by Anna Kraynova via Shutterstock


- Model generosity. Share with your child. Do what you preach. If you tell your child to share with family members and other people, then you should show them that you do it, too. Share the couch, take turns watching TV, share food. Don’t forget to make it a fun experience every time you share something with your child.

- Discuss your child’s feelings. Ask your child why they are reluctant to share. Are they worried that they won’t get their toy back? Are they afraid that they won’t get their turn to play? Recognize their feelings and let them know that you understand.

- Use a timer. Bring a timer whenever your child goes on a playdate to help you referee toy issues. When the timer rings, it is time to give the toy to their playmate. When it rings again, it is your child’s time to play with the toy. In case this does not work, time-out the toy. Return it to the shelf. Tell your child that the toy stays on the shelf until they learn to share. Both scenarios will teach them about patience and waiting for their turn. They will also be able to control their emotions. Instead of crying, they will know that they just need to wait, and then they can play with the toy again.

- Praise descriptively. When you see your child share their toy with another child, praising him them being a good kid is not enough. Instead, tell them that their playmate was happy when they shared their toy. In doing so, they will learn the details of what they did.

- Plan ahead. If your child does not want to share their toys all the time, ask their playmate’s parent to bring their own toys. Young children cannot resist new toys. They will realize that if they want to play with their playmate’s toy, they will need to share their toys.

- Use older children as models. Younger children look up to their older siblings as their models. Tell your older child to share their toys, food, and other items to their younger brother. This will teach the younger one that it is good and fun to share.

Learning to share will definitely be a challenge for young children, but remember that they need to learn this as early as possible so they will grow up as kind and generous people. Give your children plenty of time and opportunities to share with family members, relatives, neighbors, and friends. Explain to them the value and importance of doing so.