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Help Your Child Learn to Share

Sharing is not a skill children are born with, and learning to share can be a challenge. After all, who wants to put aside their own needs in order to make someone else happy? Fortunately, you can teach your child how to share and grasp how their sharing helps solve a problem or make someone else happy.

Learning to share takes practice. As an adult, it’s up to you to provide your child with many different opportunities to practice sharing and see other children sharing, too. When a child learns how to share, he or she feels more confident and can play with other children more easily. Learning to share also gives children an important set of skills that help build friendships, a solid base to build on as they grow.

Try This at Home

  • Read books about sharing with your child. As the story unfolds, talk about how the characters might feel — a variety of emotions from frustrated and sad to happy and joyful.
  • Point it out to your child when you see other children sharing: “Look Amanda, those girls are sharing their snack.”
  • Make sure your child knows when you notice that he or she is sharing. “Thank you for sharing your crayons with me. I feel happy when you share.” Or, “When I came to pick you up from school, I noticed that you were sharing toys with Anthony. What a good friend you are!”
  • Plan ahead if you anticipate a situation where sharing might be a concern. “Avery is coming over to our house today for a play date. I know how special your doll is to you. Why don’t we put your doll in a special place that is just for you, and then you and Avery can share all of the other toys.”
  • Find opportunities to teach your child how to share. “Oh no! For desert tonight we only have three cookies left for you, Joey, me, and Daddy. I wonder what we can do?”

Practice at School

Children are regularly taught how to share in school through stories, role-playing, and the use of puppets. One way teachers help children learn how to share is by pointing out how a friend looks and feels when a child does or doesn’t share.

Teachers also encourage children to begin solving problems by themselves. “I see you have five cars and Ryan has none. I wonder what we can do?” Or, “I wonder which car Ryan can use?” Most importantly, teachers congratulate children when they solve sharing problems and recognize how proud they must feel after they share.

The Bottom Line

Sharing is a skill your child will use throughout his or her life to get along with others during activities and to build friendships. Children who learn how to share are better able to understand the feelings of others, can negotiate difficult situations with confidence, and can feel secure in their ability to solve problems by themselves.