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.

Help them understand

Show your child what sharing looks like: “Shall we share?” or “Look, I’m sharing my seat with you.”

  • Give lots of praise whenever your child shares or takes turns.
  • Point out the benefits of sharing. It makes us feel good about ourselves, or makes someone else happy.
  • 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.

Make a game of it

Try different games to help your child learn.

  • Use visual clues to help very young children know when their turn is over. A 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 toys. You could say, “One for Teddy, one for Elephant, one for you and one for me.”
  • Play ‘catch’ to practise taking turns. This works well because the game only continues when everyone gets a go.

Remember it may take time

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. If this is the case, remind them to put a prized possession away when visiting friends.

In the meantime, keep showing and telling what sharing looks like. If you’re having difficulty, it may help to read our article on understanding and managing behaviour.

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This advice was written by our experienced Parent Talk coaches. Parent Talk is a free online service for parents and carers, provided by the charity Action for Children. For more advice, message our parenting coaches with our online chat.

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