How can I teach my child to share?
You only have to watch young children at play to know that sharing behaviours don’t always come naturally! Luckily, they’re easy skills to encourage.
The key is making sharing or taking turns fun – the more rewarding they are, the more you’re child will want to do them.
- Show and tell what sharing looks like: “Shall we share?” or “Look, I’m sharing my seat with you!”
- Play games that practice sharing. Start by sharing things out with their soft toys: “one for Teddy, one for Elephant, one for you and one for me.” Catch is another good one, as the game only continues when everyone gets a go.
- Use visual clues to help very young children know when their turn is over. A simple sand timer is great for this: when the sand runs out, it’s time to give someone else a go.
- Encourage empathy: ask your child to think how others might feel if they don’t have a turn or aren’t allowed to share a toy.
- Try not to get cross or call your child selfish when they won’t share – it just makes sharing a negative experience they’ll want to resist. If they’re old enough, ask why they don’t want to share, and respect their reasons.
- It’s natural to not want to share a favourite toy or bedtime bear – and that’s OK! If they’re old enough, remind them to put prized possessions away or not take them out and about when visiting friends.
Don’t forget to give lots of praise and acknowledgement when your child starts sharing or taking turns, and point out all of the benefits (making someone else happy, feeling good about themselves, or playing games with friends). Sharing is a hard concept for little ones to pick up – so they’re doing brilliantly!