How to Teach Children to Share
“I want that one!”
“I don’t want to share!”
Sounds familiar? Don’t worry – these are all common things to hear from your child. When children are learning to share and collaborate for the first time, they require support and guidance as well as fun and enjoyable activities to help them understand these new concepts. Continue reading to learn how to make sharing and collaboration easier for everyone.
Seek out social situations
Take your child to a playground or children’s museum adventure and encourage your child to share sandbox toys with others, build a sandcastle together, take turns on the swing set or work in a group to do a science experiment or art project.
Share with your child
Share your favourite spot on the sofa or a special treat you brought home from work to model the behaviour.
Begin with a simple back-and-forth, such as rolling or tossing a ball, to teach your child how to take turns — you can even say “your turn” and “my turn” whenever each of you has the ball. Board and card games are also excellent for teaching children to take turns. If you’re playing with a larger group, help children remember who goes first so they know when to draw a card or roll the dice.
Choose books about sharing. As you read each story, ask your child how the characters would feel, what they should do, and what he or she thinks will happen next.
On pizza night, work together to divide everything equally and give each person one slice. At breakfast, ask your child to arrange five strawberries on each person’s plate. This is a great math activity as well as a great way to reinforce sharing.
Play a tune on the xylophone and encourage your child to take a turn with the drum or tambourine. You can also work together to count out the beat while playing the instruments.
Plan a strategy ahead of time, and then take turns stacking or arranging blocks and materials. If you’d rather make building into a game, try Jenga!
When it’s time to put everything away, take turns by putting the toys back into the basket. Compete to see who can return the stuffed animals to their respective places the quickest, or work together to beat a timer.
Designate “off-limits” and “fair game” toys
If your child is hesitant and uncomfortable sharing special toys with others, put them away before friends come over. Work with your child ahead of time to designate what will be the fair game by giving them choices — “Would you rather share your teddy bear or your stuffed dog?”
Let them figure it out
Before you intervene on a tussle over toys, wait and see if your child and his or her friends can come up with a solution. Listen for negotiation, and if it’s your turn to speak up, try to guide their conversation by encouraging them to set time limits and take turns.
Point out the positives
Make it known when your child does a good job of sharing. Say things like, “You shared your toy — look how happy you made your friend” and “Thank you for letting me use your crayons…they helped me make this pretty picture.”
Finally, keep in mind that patience is a virtue. It takes time to learn something new. Offering your child support and coaching along the way will encourage sharing and collaboration, which are lifelong skills that will set your child up for future success.