How to get your Kids to Share

Sharing is an important concept for young children to learn. It helps them learn to think about others and not just their own feelings and desires. A child who shares is more likely to have friends than one who doesn’t because other children feel more comfortable. Learning some simple ways to teach the concept of sharing will help parents and other important adults in the child’s life.

Set an example

It is easier to teach a child through actions rather than words. When a child sees the parents doing something, he will often try to mimic the behavior. Pay attention to how much sharing is going on within the family. Older siblings should be sharing with each other and younger siblings. Invite people over for a meal and have the children help with meal preparation. Giving outgrown items to thrift stores or helping out at community events or local churches are great examples of sharing with others.

Set guidelines to follow

Sometimes, the idea of sharing can be overwhelming for young children. They fear that sharing a toy means the other child can keep it. Set some simple rules for both the child, siblings and visitors to follow to give some security to the situation. Start by teaching the child to ask for something instead of just taking it. Most young children can be very impulsive and aren’t necessarily meaning to be rude by grabbing.

Then, insist that the child wait until someone else is finished with an object. This instills turn-taking and ensures that everyone gets a fair chance to use something. A great way to accomplish this task is to set an egg timer for five or ten minutes. When the timer goes off, the object is passed to the next person. Finally, encourage the children to help each other with a game or new activity. This helps keep the focus on the other person instead of selfish desires and makes things more fun. Ensure that these rules are being followed by other children, as well. This keeps everything fair and leads to more playtime and less fighting.

Prepare for visits

When possible, give the child notice that friends are coming over to play. Allow the child to pick toys she is willing to share into a storage bin. Make the bin accessible to the visitors so that the bedroom isn’t destroyed as they go through every single toy in the house. This helps with cleaning up after the visit while allowing the child to decide what is shared and what isn’t.

Many young children have favorite toys that they are less willing to share. When visitors are expected, allow the child to place these items out of reach. He won’t have to worry about it getting lost, stolen or broken. This can help ease anxieties and prevent fighting while he shares his other toys. These toys should also be off limits to other siblings.

Holidays

Holidays and birthdays are a great time for a child to practice sharing. Allow her to choose gifts for people or participate in making handmade gifts. Talk about how much the recipient will appreciate the gift and the child’s effort in selecting or making it. Encourage the child to give a gift to a child who is less fortunate.

Encouragement

Encouragement helps a child understand when he has done something important. When he is caught sharing, praise him. Let him know that he did the right thing and help him see how much the other child appreciated his kind act. Observe other people sharing either in real life or on television so he learns to recognize it and watch for it.

Teaching a child to share can be simple by setting an example and helping the child have a little control in what is being shared. Taking the child’s needs and fears into consideration helps give a sense of security while encouraging sharing to happen. Teaching the child to include others makes playtime more enjoyable for everyone.