Sharing doesn’t come easily to kids, and can be very challenging for younger children. Here we’ll share our top tips to help your child learn how to share and take turns.
Why is sharing so hard?
For children, sharing can be difficult because they have to:
- Understand how their friend feels
- Understand why their friend would enjoy having a turn
- Give up something they like
- Wait for their turn
When we look at it like this, it’s easy to see why many children find it challenging to share.
How can I teach my kids to share?
This is a common question parents and carers ask, especially when they see the negative consequences of children not sharing, such as isolation and inappropriate behaviour. We recommend:
- Making sharing fun: Teach your children co-operative games where everyone needs to work together towards a common goal. For example, a puzzle where everyone takes turns to add a piece.
- Waiting is boring: While your child is waiting for their turn, try to keep them engaged in the activity. For example, they can keep the time, which can help to create anticipation and interest in the task.
- Don’t punish: If your child doesn’t share a prized possession, don’t punish them as this can lead to resentment and not generosity. Instead, wait for opportunities for positive reinforcement to encourage sharing.
- Negotiation: Where one child takes a toy off another child, offer similar objects. For example, “Sarah is playing with the red ball right now, but you can play with the green ball now. Later, when the timer goes off you can swap and play with the red one.”
- Talk about it: Explain the concept of sharing and that it doesn’t mean giving the object up.
- Lead by example: Children learn so much from modelling our behaviour. If they witness you being generous, it makes it easier for them to show these same qualities. Use words like “share” to describe what you’re doing and let your children see you compromise too.
Reinforcing positive behaviour
When you see your child share it’s important to reinforce the positive behaviour with praise. The type of praise you choose will probably depend on what works for you and your child, but we recommend that you:
- Get their attention: Get down on their level and try to make eye contact with your child.
- Tell them: Let them know why you are praising them.
- Make sure they can see and, or, feel the praise: For example, use words and maybe a pat on the back, or a hug, smile, or a high five.
Over to you
Does your child struggle with sharing and taking turns? What have you tried to overcome the problem? What has worked for you? We’d love to know.
Are you interested in more kid-friendly advice?
The experienced team at Growing Early Minds are here for you and your family. Call our friendly team on 1800 436 436 or contact us
Disclaimer: The information here is provided on a general basis. You’re encouraged to consult with an expert who can consider your individual situation.