6 Ways to Teach Your Child How to Share

how to share

Sharing is a concept that needs to be taught. As much as I wish it came naturally to my two children, it doesn’t. Now that my son is able to keep up with my daughter, he wants to touch everything she is playing with. When we sit in the playroom together, she gets the tea set out, and before she can turn around, my son is making a bee-line for the cup. “Mine!” she shouts and contorts the tea set as high in the air as she can reach. I ask her if we can all play together, and while she sets up the tea party, I try to distract my son with a toy phone. And you can guess whose hand comes flying in to grab it. “Mine!” she says again in frustration.

This scenario plays on repeat as my little ones trudge through learning how to share. If your child is also learning to take turns, here are six ways to teach your child how to share:

1. Make a List

Explain specifically what sharing is to your children. Then, have them help you create a list of what it looks like to share or take turns. Young children will benefit from the explicit examples in the list you create together.

2. Give Two Choices

In the situation that you need to intervene with two children who are not sharing, you can give them two choices to encourage sharing. You can either say yes, which teaches them to give generously, or you can tell them that in two minutes they will need to share, which teaches the other child patience as well.

3. Role Play

Role playing is a powerful way to practice difficult social concepts like sharing. {Tweet This} Create a scenario about two people who need to share, and tell your child you are going to pretend together to solve the problem. Here is an example: “Anna has built a huge tower out of blocks. Her friend Tommy wants to help her build the tower too. Anna has spent a lot of time putting the tower together and doesn’t want Tommy to mess it up. What can she do?”

4. Practice Sharing During Family Time

Make an effort to do something during your family time, in which everyone has a chance to share. It can be as simple as playing a game together, building together, or even sharing control over which show to watch together. The important part is for the parents to model and identify how each member is sharing and taking turns.

5. Read Books About Sharing

Reading books about sharing is a great way to learn about different perspectives. This can be a fun experience for kids if they get to take a trip to the library to pick out books with this theme, or they can have fun doing some detective work to search out scenarios where characters are sharing, in their own library of books. Some examples of books about sharing are: Jonathan & Martha by Petr Horácek, It’s Mine! by Leo Lionni, and Llama Llama Time to Share by Anna Dewdney.

6. Praise Progress

As parents, if you catch your child sharing with a sibling or another child, praise them. Make a big deal about how they can feel proud of themselves for showing kindness by sharing. Not only will the child being praised feel proud, but it will also reiterate the positive behavior for the other child as well.

What have you found to be an effective way to teach children how to share in your family?

Amy Lu is a Midwest mama from Michigan who enjoys sharing parenting and pregnancy resources with parents of young children on the blog, Making Motherhood Matter.