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How to Teach your Child to Share

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‘Sharing’ is a complex concept for children to understand, as it does not imply a single definition. It could mean to allow a sibling to get under the same blanket, lend a toy to a classmate for some time, or give away half of their cookies to a friend. 

When you tell a two year old to share something that belongs to them, it is likely to end in tears and tantrums. 

By the age of four, children start to develop empathy and understand that sharing is more fun as opposed to playing alone. 

Parents need to realize that while teaching your child to share is a very positive approach, there are limits to it. Several things, such as a toddler’s clothing items, a spoon, a straw, or a lollypop are not meant to be used by their playmates. 

As the child’s brain develops, he/she inclines towards the perception of possession. You will repeatedly witness them claiming objects as ‘mine’. They will naturally enter in conflict with the idea of letting someone else take their things, even on a temporary basis. Here are a few tips to help your child grasp the meaning of sharing and overcome the urge to act selfish:

Start with Taking Turns and Timing It 

When you ask a child to share, he/she may not be willing to so do because of the impression that they won’t get the toy back. Demonstrate the concept of taking turns by timing the period each kid gets to play with the object of interest. It will seem hard at first, but the child will gradually warm up to the arrangement. 

Encourage Collaborative Games

Bring in a puzzle, a large assortment of play dough, a bucket of Legos, a set of dinkies, or anything that motivates the children to play together. Refrain from introducing games that entail a competition or the idea of ‘winning’. 

Related article: Kids Activity: Fun Flower Maze

Discuss the Child’s Feelings

If your child is uncomfortable with sharing something, address the issue calmly. They are not able to communicate their feelings, so you must show them that you understand. Maybe they fear that their favorite toy will get lost, damaged, or never be returned. Reassure them that nothing bad will happen as a consequence of sharing.

Related article: A Good Friend of Theirs

Do not Impose Sharing 

Give your child time and space to adjust with the notion of sharing. Do not intervene unless things get out of hand. Allow the kids to negotiate with each other and reach a solution on their own. If you scold or punish a child for not sharing, he/she will repel the idea even more. 

Let Them Hold on to Special Items

Every toddler has one or a few favorite toys or trinkets that they wish to keep to themselves. Allow your child to safe keep these special items if he/she is ready to share the rest of his/her toys with other kids. 

Be a Role Model 

Children quickly pick and learn from what they see. If you yourself exhibit acts of sharing and make it look like a good thing, they will surely follow through. For instance, you can get two bags of chips; you shall share one bag with your spouse and instruct the child to share it with their sibling in the same way. Single parents or parents with sole child custody usually have a harder time demonstrating the deed of sharing. 

Praise Acts of Sharing 

When your child shares his/her things without making any fuss, do not forget to appreciate it. Praising him/her in front of the other children will motivate them to share too. 

Author Bio

John Adams is a paralegal who writes about psychological issues faced by children and adults. He helps his readers overcome challenges and traumas by encouraging them to fight for themselves. He aims to reach out to individuals who are unaware of their legal rights, and make the world a better place.

Diah Dwi Arti
Diah Dwi Arti
Muslimah | Madiun, Indonesia | Mom of three | email: diah.d.arti [at]

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