10 tips to teach your child to share

By Dr Richard C. Woolfson   — September 07, 2017
  • 1 / 11

    Children at the early preschool age are not usually good at sharing.

    They are smart enough to know what belongs to them, but they aren’t mature enough to allow another child temporary usage of their possessions.

    And that’s when fights break out!

    Here are 10 tips that can help your child learn to share:

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  • Understand his perspective
    2 / 11 Understand his perspective

    Although sharing makes sense to you – because you know it helps build social connections – it doesn’t make sense to your toddler.

    As far as he is concerned, sharing means he has to give away something for nothing. It’s no wonder, then, that he tells his pals: “Hands off that toy! It’s mine.”

    Related: 10 good habits to teach your child

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  • Recognise this is normal
    3 / 11 Recognise this is normal

    It is not just your child who appears selfish – every child behaves this way when he sees another child approach his possessions.

    Instead of thinking “I’m willing to let him play with my toy because it will make him happy”, his instinct is to protect what he owns at all costs.

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  • Give reassurance
    4 / 11 Give reassurance

    His biggest fear in connection with sharing is that once the toy leaves his hands, he will never see it again – he doesn’t actually believe it will be returned to him.

    Reassure your toddler that you will ensure the other child returns it to him once he is finished with it.

    This gradually builds his confidence in sharing.

    Related: 5 things you should never share with your child

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  • Explain the impact of sharing
    5 / 11 Explain the impact of sharing

    Discuss the pro-social effect that sharing brings.

    For instance, your preschooler will be pleased to hear that his friends will feel happier when he shares his favourite possessions with them.

    And he will be delighted when you explain that his pals’ parents will think very highly of him when he shares his toys and sweets.

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  • Outline practical benefits
    6 / 11 Outline practical benefits

    Make sure he understands the advantages that sharing can bring him.

    For example, point out that if he shares his possessions with his friends, they in turn will share their toys with him – it benefits all of them.

    Add that other children will want to play with him when they know that he shares his toys willingly.

    Related: 10 social skills your toddler must learn from age 1

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  • Show by example
    7 / 11 Show by example

    This form of teaching is far more effective than simply instructing him to share.

    Your child imitates a lot of your behaviour because he loves you and wants to be like you.

    Show him that you enjoy sharing things with him, with your other children and with your own friends.

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  • Aim for steady progress
    8 / 11 Aim for steady progress

    Teach sharing in small steps. For example, give him a small bag of sweets, then ask him to give you one of his sweets instead of keeping them all to himself.

    Be prepared to offer gentle persuasion as he may refuse to cooperate with your request initially.

    Persist until he shares, however grudgingly.

    Related: Teach your child how to share

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  • Stay calm
    9 / 11 Stay calm

    Expect your toddler to be a slow learner when it comes to sharing. Do your best to keep your anger in control when he starts to resist.

    If you get angry, he’ll probably dig his heels in even more.

    Maintain a level, relaxed voice tone, and repeat your instructions about sharing until he starts to participate.

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  • Praise him when he shares
    10 / 11 Praise him when he shares

    Make a big fuss of your child when he shares his toys, games and other possessions with his friends – your positive reaction will reinforce his interest in this social skill.

    He naturally seeks your approval, so use this to encourage him to share with others.

    For instance, let him see you tell his grandparents about how generous he is.

    Related: Will my child get sick from sharing toys?

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  • Sort out sharing disputes
    11 / 11 Sort out sharing disputes

    Despite your best efforts, moments will arise when he and his friend end up raging at each other because one refuses to share with the other.

    If this happens, suggest that one child play with the toy for a minute, before passing it to the other child for the next minute.

    (Photos: 123RF.com)

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