How can I teach my child to share?

Sharing doesn’t always come naturally to young children – it’s something they need to practise. The trick is to make sharing and taking turns fun.

Young child with crayola crayons
  • Show and tell what sharing looks like: “Shall we share?” or “Look, I’m sharing my seat with you.”
  • 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.
  • Play sharing games with their cuddly toys: “one for Teddy, one for Elephant, one for you and one for me.”
  • Catch is another good game to practise taking turns, as the game only continues when everyone gets a go.
  • Encourage empathy. Ask your child to think how others might feel if they don’t get a turn or aren’t allowed to share a toy.
  • Point out the benefits of sharing. It makes us feel good about ourselves, or makes someone else happy.
  • Give lots of praise whenever your child shares or takes turns.

What if my child won’t share?

Try not to get cross or call your child selfish when they won’t share. It can make 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 OK to not want to share a favourite toy or bedtime bear. Remind them to put prized possessions away or not take them out and about when visiting friends. In the meantime, keep showing and telling what sharing looks like.

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