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How to teach your children to share

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Many parents consider sharing to be a fundamental part of their child’s development. As a result they spend a lot of their time encouraging their kids to share their favourite toy, food or person!

It may be comforting for you to learn that sharing does not come easily to most children. Just as your children will move through developmental levels when it comes to sitting, crawling or walking, their ability to share is also a skill that develops over time.

Children need to feel a sense of ‘ownership’ of their belongings prior to being able to share it. This means that your child may only be ready to start learning about sharing at around 3 years of age.

Here are some ways to encourage your child to share:

Set a good example.

Most of the research regarding sharing emphasises the importance of setting an example that allows your child to see sharing in action. You can do this by consciously pointing it out when you are sharing objects E.g. ‘This is your block, and that is mine. We are sharing the toys’.

Use a timer and offer to wait with your child for the toy

This can provide your child with a visual cue to assist them with understanding the meaning of ‘waiting’ for their turn. If your child is still upset, offer to wait with them.

Select your ‘sharing toys’ before friends come over

Allow your children to pick the toys they are willing to share prior to play dates. Put the rest of their toys away. This can help to give them ownership of their toys, which in turn assists with their ability to share the toys they chose.


By Carlien Badenhurst
Paediatric Occupational Therapist
Kids First Children’s Services 2014

A child who is apparently unable to share may be experiencing other difficulties that contribute toward this behaviour. If you are worried, Kids First’s children’s health team in Sydney’s northern beaches may be able to help.

If you are local to our centre in Brookvale, you can make an appointment to speak with a member of our team. Email us or call us on (02) 9938 5419 today

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