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How To Help Children Learn About Sharing

Updated: Dec 6, 2023

Be a good role model: Children watch and learn, especially from their parents. Be a good role model and demonstrate good sharing skills yourself. You can start by role modelling sharing often, i.e. “There is only one blue crayon. Would you like to start drawing with it first, and then when you are done, it will be my turn to use it?” or “There is only one banana left. Let’s share it between us”. It will give your child a great example to follow.

Practise sharing in daily lives: Learning to share is a gradual process and many children only understand the concept of sharing between three and four years of age. It is important to have realistic expectations about your child’s sharing skills depending on their age.

Also make sure to teach them easy phrases that they can use to ask for a turn, or to express their wants and needs, i.e. “Can I have a turn?”, “Have you finished playing with the truck?”, “May I play with you?”, “Can we share?” or “I am not done yet.”.

Tell them the benefits of sharing: Communicate with your children and explain why sharing is good for them and others by giving them real examples. For example, you can say something like “You and your cousins had so much fun this afternoon when you took turns riding the bike!”.

It will help them develop a sense of belonging and understand the benefits of sharing.

Acknowledge your child and others when they share: For example, you can say, “your friend shared his toys with you at the playground – that was so nice of him!”, or “thank you for sharing the muffin with your sister, that was very kind of you”. Once they understand that it is an important skill, they will feel motivated to keep practising it.

Here are 4 turn-taking activities for two-year-olds:

Build a tower together

  • One of the simplest ways to practice turn-taking is with a set of blocks. By age 3, many children can build a tower as many as nine or ten blocks high—taking turns with a partner is a fun way to work towards a common goal.

Turn-taking ball

  • Having a physical item to hold when it’s their turn to do something can help children more easily internalize the concept. A ball, especially a soft one they can squeeze, is a great tool—but you can really use any soft object. Here are a few ways to use the turn-taking ball:

Choose What to Share

  • This one isn’t a game so much as a pre-playdate activity. If your toddler struggles when they have to share their toys, give them some control and let them choose what to share ahead of time. Let them pick a few “safe” items they don’t have to share, and then put these items away for the playdate. Knowing that they won’t be forced to share their favorite things can help reduce any anxiety and reluctance they feel about sharing.

Play Santa

  • Ever notice how much toddlers love being to one to pass out the presents on Christmas day? Keep that sharing attitude alive all year by letting them gather pretend gifts and hand them out to family members or their toy “friends.” Maybe Teddy Bear would like to wear your child’s favorite pair of shoes, and Daddy would love to get a toy truck. Of course, your child won’t actually be giving away their possessions, but even pretending helps them see that sharing can feel great! Add a Santa hat to get them in the spirit, or make it less seasonal and pretend that they’re giving out “thank you” gifts.

Crafts (with limited materials)

  • Sharing craft supplies is pretty much an everyday occurrence in preschool, so start getting your little one prepared by sharing craft materials at home. You can work on your own craft or picture as they do and occasionally ask for a crayon, glue stick, etc. Add in a few extra fun items like little gemstones or puffy stickers to let your kiddo get used to leaving enough of the “cool stuff” for everyone.

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