It is normal for small children to be afraid when it comes to sharing something. At the same time, it is also normal for them to feel that everything they want should be theirs, even if it belongs to someone else. Sometimes, small children may even behave violently to defend what is “theirs”. Nevertheless, it is necessary to teach children to share, showing them that by doing so they can gain even more.

In the end, sharing is not a natural skill, but rather a behaviour that must be learned. This is not to say that teaching is easy. For young children, understanding what it means to give and receive is difficult, especially as they still lack a clear understanding of time and language. For example, telling a two-year-old that she can have her toy back in a few minutes means very little to her.

Young children are at a developmental stage characterized by being egocentric, in which they are still beginning to recognize themselves as individuals with their own things. They are beginning to explore what it means to own something and have not yet developed the idea that some things belong to other people. The good news is that, although not something easy to achieve, children are fully capable of learning to share. But this requires patience and good training from parents and educators.

How to teach children to share?

Children usually understand the concept of sharing around the age of three. However, it will take some time before a child is ready to do this. Even though they are beginning to develop empathy and already know to respect the turn of others, they are not yet mature enough to resist all impulses. Most three and four-year-old children respond to their most immediate interests.

It is possible that a small child does not understand enough to understand that even if he does not have a toy at that moment, he can have one later when it is his turn. Despite the difficulties that may appear, underneath this surface their abilities to share are already developing. Below, we will look at some tips for teaching children to share that will help these skills mature.

Set a good example

If you want your young child to learn how to share, it is important that they have good examples, role models that they can be inspired by. This can be done by sharing something you are eating or letting them paint or decorate something you are making, for example, a birthday card or something you are preparing with the very intention of sharing. It is also very interesting that the child sees you sharing something with other people, asking for something, and also saying thank you.

Don’t forget that your things are your world

Children’s things are their world. If you force them to share something, you will only succeed in negatively reinforcing their obsession with keeping their things safe. Children should learn that sharing does not mean losing or giving things up and that sharing with other children makes it possible to enjoy play even more.

Sharing is not a natural skill, but a learned one. It is necessary to teach children to share, showing them that in doing so they are not renouncing anything.
CREDIT: JANKO FERLIC / UNSPLASH

Supervise the use she makes of what others share with her

When other children share something with your child, it is a very good moment to show him what is happening. The other child can borrow a toy and, soon after, retrieve it and take it away. If everyone has a toy somewhere, such as in a playroom, you can show them that several people can play with the same toy and then leave it where it was. In this way, the child can see that nothing happens by sharing and that sharing is fun.

Try to understand why your child doesn’t want to share

It could be that your child doesn’t want to share something because that object has a special meaning for him, or because he is afraid that another child will spoil what he has achieved or made. They may even have a reason for thinking this, although they may not know how to express it, such as some child breaking something of theirs at some point.

Use positive reinforcement

When your child shows a positive and sharing attitude, reinforce him positively by acknowledging his action and congratulating him, or even rewarding him with something small that he likes.

Be patient

For some children, it is harder to understand that sharing can be fun, but the time comes for everyone and it will come for that too. As the child develops social skills and makes real friends, they are more likely to embrace the idea that sharing is something fun.

Sharing is more than exchanging objects

Besides exchanging and sharing objects, it is also possible to share time with a story or an adult’s attention. Adding the word share to the vocabulary whenever possible in this kind of situation is very useful for children to integrate the concept into their daily way of acting.

Teach children that sharing is important

Learning to share can be a challenge for young children, but it is one that must be met and can be overcome. It is an important skill that will be needed to play and benefit from interacting with other children. Despite this, not all children learn this skill. Surely you know a work colleague, friend, or relative who, even as an adult, has not yet acquired the ability to share. And these adults are not very easy to relate to.

Many times other people do not like to be near them. What complicates matters, even more, is that acquiring this ability later in life is much more difficult, which is why it is even more important that it is a skill acquired during childhood. So do not underestimate the importance of teaching children to share, especially if we are talking about your own children.

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