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Five Tips for Teaching Your Child to Share

January 20, 2019, Author: Tamra Cater


Teaching your child to share can be hard, but it’s something they need to learn. Sharing is a behavior that you should start to see at around 24 months, but it’s never to early to start working on it.

My experience with my daughter

My husband and I have only one child, but we plan to adopt a child later on down the road. However, because my daughter is an only child, it has been difficult to teach her to share. I was always worried about taking her on play dates, because I was afraid she might try to gouge an eye out when another child had a toy she wanted. As another example, my husband and I would go to the local Mexican restaurant, and my daughter would claim the entire basket of tortilla chips and salsa. If we tried to take a chip, she’d get upset and told us to “put it back!!” In order to even get a chip, we’d have to do it while she was distracted.

Needless to say, we had to work on the sharing. These are several useful tips that we have used to work on her sharing behavior.

tips for teaching sharing

Recommendations for Teaching Your Child to Share

1.Model How to Share

My husband and I would model sharing behavior. If we have a desired food such as cake, we would always offer her a piece. We would also share with each other. Studies have shown that children are more likely to share if they observe others who help and share.  And when you do observe your child sharing, praise them for it.

2.Interactions with parents

If parents are responsive to the needs of the child, the child will develop empathy and other kinds of altruistic behaviors such as sharing. So, if your child is having trouble reaching a teddy bear off of a shelf, grab the teddy bear. If your child is upset because they fell and hurt themselves, give them your full attention and offer empathy. In general, it’s important to be giving and responsive to the needs of the child in order for them to develop altruistic behaviors.

3.Read books on sharing

If a parent reads age-appropriate books on sharing, this can help the child begin to better understand the concept of sharing and how to share with others.

I recommend this book based on the great reviews on Amazon:


4.Playdates can help kids practice sharing

Playdates with other children can offer practice with sharing. It may help to set up a timer for taking turns. For example, one child could play with a toy for 2 minutes, and when time is up, the other child gets 2 minutes with it.

5.Explaining how the behavior affects others

If, during a playdate, your child doesn’t share and the other child becomes upset, explain to your child what happened and why the other child is upset. You could say, “Kate is upset because you aren’t sharing, and she would like a turn with the toy.”

 After using some of these techniques, my daughter now allows us to have some tortilla chips.

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comments (5)

  • avatar image
    Number 2 on the list above made me laugh just because of my own experiences. Recently, I was having a conversation with my 16 year old son about a topic which has come up at school; why are kids publicly misbehaving and why aren't parents more involved to prevent some disturbing behaviors? We spoke about the differences between my parenting and maybe some other parents. I let him know that I always talked to him and his sister since they were very young, even if it wasn't understandable language, but at least my kids were hearing my voice and felt as though they had opinions that were being heard. But one topic which came up was what I would do when they'd fall. My son says, disturbingly, "you'd ask if we were bleeding or going to die." But he laughed. As I have a medical background, when they'd fall or similar, I would check them then ask them those questions. I think these questions would make them reconsider their responses of crying as if the world was ending or simply just brushing it off. Its important to let them know that they've been heard and seen but also teach them to assess situations on their own so they can gain some independence, even at a young age.


    January 21, 2019 Reply
    • avatar image
      I love this, and I do agree! Children should feel heard, but they also should learn to assess the situation themselves. This does build confidence and resilience!

      Tamra Cater

      January 21, 2019 Reply
      • avatar image
        It's important to learn children things like sharing. I like the playing practice and the reading and the modelling.

        Karin Ravasio

        March 15, 2019 Reply
        • avatar image
          Thank you!

          Tamra Cater

          March 15, 2019 Reply
      • avatar image
        My son was 2 days shy of being 2 years old when his sister was born. He absolutely loves her, but occasionally (now that she's getting an interest in toys), he wants what she's got. It's been interesting navigating the waters of sharing.. This will definitely help!


        May 9, 2019 Reply