Teaching children to share: its importance and 13 ways to do it

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Teaching children to share can make them humble, empathetic, and cooperative. It may feel like a difficult task for all children initially. Be it their favorite toy, pillow, or snack; most children are quite possessive about their belongs. However, the attention span of a child is very short.

So they might stop playing with that toy after fighting with you for it with all their might. Hence, teaching the kids to share early on in their lives goes a long way. Here we have listed some easy tips and tricks that you may use to teach your little one about how sharing is a good personality trait.

Why Is Sharing Important For Kids?

Children should imbibe the virtue of ‘sharing’ for a fulfilling future. It helps them make new friends, maintain relationships, play cooperatively, and learn to negotiate and cope with disappointments in the long run. They would also understand that if they share, their gesture will be reciprocated.

Sharing is an integral part of socializing with others, so it is all the more essential when your child sets foot in preschool or kindergarten. It paves the way towards a harmonious playtime and cultivates strong bonds.

At What Age Do Children Usually Start To Share?

For toddlers, the concept of sharing is new. They cannot keep a check on their emotions as they have merely started learning. Don’t be surprised when your child throws a tantrum, refusing to share. Setting any expectations at this age is unrealistic. Try encouraging them to learn and practice.

When they turn three years old, they start familiarizing themselves with what sharing and turn-taking are. They understand that sharing is a fair practice, but they don’t necessarily want to give up something for anyone’s sake. They learn the concept of sharing and understanding other’s emotions and thoughts gradually. You can inspire them, but do not push them.

When they enter school, they have a decent understanding of fairness and sharing. They become more tolerant and patient than they were. Children at this age may prefer selective sharing. Like an adult, a child might want to reserve some possessions exclusively to themselves. They might not like to share their treasured teddy or blanket like you would not want to part away with the jewelry piece or heirloom shawl you received from your mother. Respect your child’s right to their prized possessions and support their choices.

13 Ways To Teach Your Child To Share

Here are a few ways in which you can encourage your child to share.

1. Be a role model

Doing the right deeds in front of the child is essential. They usually tend to imitate what they observe and see in their environment. Set an example by sharing things. Let them know you share your books with your friends and give away your old clothes to the needy. Throw light on simple actions and act as a role model for your children.

2. Teach the concept of taking turns

As and when your child is ready to learn, teach them the concept of turn-taking. While you are playing, keep passing a ball or a toy back and forth and mention, “your turn now.” Follow it up with “mom’s turn now” to encourage and familiarize them with the whole idea of sharing.

3. Praise actions of sharing

It is always good to remind children that being generous and compassionate towards others is a good deed. If they agree to share something, appreciate their action. They will feel motivated and appreciated and would want to do it over and over again.

4. Plan and be proactive

If you know that your child will have trouble sharing toys during a playdate, proactively ask the playmate’s parents to send some toys. Some children find it difficult to resist new toys. When another child shares their toys, your little one will understand they have to share their toys too. Similarly, if your child has a playdate with a child who is unwilling to share, take toys along.

5. Never force a child to share

Create the right environment that motivates your child to share. For you, a toy might not hold the kind of significance that it has for a child. It could be a prized possession for them. Respect their possessiveness while you imbibe in them the virtues and importance of sharing. Observing how your child behaves in a group setting will give you a perspective into what kind of guidance they need.

6. Give your child opportunities to share

To reinforce sharing habits in children, you can use older children as role models. If a toddler is on the receiving end of a good deed, they will likely reciprocate or imitate the gesture sooner or later. It teaches a valuable lesson to the toddler that sharing is caring, and you will be relieved to see your little one come through with the best behavior.

7. Introduce time-sharing activities

Children can keep taking turns to have a toy for a specified time and then hand it over to the other child when the buzzer goes off. Keep reassuring them that everyone would get a chance. It would not be an easy ride, so be patient. It will take them a few cycles before they hand over the toy with a smile. Gradually, it will become a practice, and they will learn a valuable lesson for life that holding up gratification can be meaningful.

If this trick doesn’t help, place the toy on the shelf. Explain to them that neither gets to lay their hands on the toy if they don’t like to share. They might initially fume and froth but will soon realize that sharing the toy is better than sacrificing it completely. They will end up imbibing the virtues of compromise and cooperation.

8. Play didactic games

Games such as “Share Daddy” helps. You can place your two-year-old on one knee and the other child on the other. It will teach them that they have to share their daddy. Similarly, you can give some goodies, including toys, flowers, or crackers, to your two-year-old and ask them to give one to everyone around. The message conveyed here is that sharing spreads joy and is a way of life.

9. Stay connected to the child

It is a proven fact that a child does what they see and gives what they get. Children who are attached to parents in the initial years tend to share in the following years. An attached-parented child has a secure self-image, and their need to validate their worth is relatively low. Thus, they require lesser attachment objects.

10. Make it fun

Try to include more cooperative games in your child’s day to day activities than competitive games where they focus more on winning. You can do jigsaw puzzles together and add pieces taking turns. You can also water plants or clean the room together.

11. Protect your child’s interests

If your child has a soft corner for a particular toy, protect and respect that attachment. At the same time, teach the importance of being generous. It is healthy for a child to be possessive about some toys. Guard that possession and slowly ease them into sharing. Before a playdate, check with your child which toys they are willing to share. Ask the playmate to get some toys too so that they can learn the art of sharing.

12. Show examples in everyday life

When in public, point out how people share and help each other. Show them that it is not just toys and food that need to be shared, but other things, such as love, respect, and affection, can also be part of the process.

13. Teach them to spread joy

Make sure that your children grow up to be fine human beings who spread love and joy in the world. A simple act of sharing will mold their personalities and teach them to consider others’ feelings and emotions.

Once your child starts empathizing with others, they will understand the joy of sharing. If their foundation years are set correctly, they will become exemplary humans the world needs. Incorporate all these effective and fun ways to teach your child to share, and your child will learn the fruitful act of sharing and bring joy to the world.

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Pallavi Lakhotia

Pallavi freelances for MomJunction, covering topics on child psychology, their mental health and development. She also writes on couples relationships. Being a graduate in Psychology helps her understand and analyze relationships and children. Her research-skills coupled with her field expertise help her bring forth a holistic view of the situation and provide the right guidance to readers. Before getting associated... more