How to Help Your Child Become the Best Sharer on the Block

By Shannon Gurnee
In Education
August 30, 2015
18 Comments
2087 Views

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Growing up, I always loved to share with others. I would share with my parents, my siblings, my friends and even people I didn’t even know. I learned and continued sharing throughout my life. To this day, I eagerly share with others when and where I can. As a parent, I want my children to grow up sharing with others. So, how does one help his or her child to become the best sharer on the block? Check out these ideas from Gina Quick at Kindercare Education.

For a toddler, sharing toys with another toddler can be a very real challenge. In fact, young children often can’t willingly share until they are developmentally ready, about age three or so.

Even before then, however, toddlers are reaching the critical social and emotional milestones they’ll need to become generous sharers later on.

Here are the age-appropriate strategies you can use to make sure that the Season of Sharing lasts all year round

Age 1-2:

  • What He’s Learning:
    • Your role is to encourage him as he takes the initiative to explore the world on his own.
  • Your Sharing Strategy:
    • Don’t force it. (At this stage, forcing a child to share may shake his confidence in his own abilities.) Instead, pack a few extra toys in your diaper bag and gently redirect children who show interest in a toy your child is using
  • Also key? When a child shows you a toy, take the time to engage with him and show interest. While not “sharing” in the classic sense, he is inviting interaction – which builds the foundation for sharing later on

Age 2 ½ :

  • What She’s Learning:
    • An essential part of becoming a willing sharer.
  • Your Sharing Strategy:
    • At this stage, children are more likely to offer to share when they understand how others are feeling. When you see an opportunity to share, talk to your child about how her friend might be feeling. “Your friend seems upset and she is reaching for your rubber ducky. I think she likes the squeaking sound it makes. Do you think she wants to play with it?”

Age 3:

  • What He’s Learning:
    • Cooperative Play. When you can begin to expect him to take turns and share.
  • Your Sharing Strategy:
    • Now you can really begin to build positive sharing habits
      • Give your child the option to keep some special toys, such as favorite new holiday gifts, for himself. Explain that these toys need to be kept out of sight before a play date or when younger siblings are around. Our family’s mantra is, “If it’s downstairs, it’s to be shared.”
      • Encourage positive sharing during calm playtime before conflict arises. Help children ask each other for a turn
      • Give children the chance to resolve emerging conflicts themselves. “There is only one toy vacuum cleaner and you both really want to use it. What could we do to make everyone happy?”
      • If children have a hard time coming up with a solution, help them by providing ideas without solving the problem for them. It’s also a good idea to give the child who is waiting for a turn ways to stay engaged in play. “When Daddy and I vacuum together, one of us moves furniture out of the way while the other one pushes the vacuum.”

The biggest lesson? Keep expectations about sharing in line with your child’s age – and be patient. Once children reach milestones in their social and emotional development, they can surprise us with their ability to share willingly and generously.

This information about how to help your child become the best sharer on the block came from our friends at KinderCare. At KinderCare online, you can find lots of different ideas for teaching and activities to use with your kids at home. 

What is your favorite kid’s activity at KinderCare?

About Has 1258 Posts

Shannon Gurnee (formerly Shannon Gosney) is the author of The Mommy-Files, a national blog with a loyal following. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Marriage, Family, and Human Development with a Minor in Business Management. Shannon and her husband, Frank, have a large family with 6 awesome kids and love living on the Central Coast near San Luis Obispo, California, as well as traveling around the world. A full-time Social Media and Professional Blogger, Shannon also serves as a National Brand Ambassador for many well-known companies. Her blog focuses on motherhood, family fun activities, traveling, fashion, beauty, technology, wedding ideas and recipes while providing professional opinions on products, performances, restaurants, and a variety of businesses.

18 Responses to “How to Help Your Child Become the Best Sharer on the Block”

  1. Robin (Masshole Mommy) says:

    This is such helpful information for parents of little ones. There are going to be a lot of great sharers out there after reading this.

  2. These are such great tips. The biggest hurdle I had with my kids was teaching them to share.

  3. Teaching kids to share can be tough. That was the hardest thing I had to do with my kids.

  4. Debra says:

    Teaching sharing is a tough concept. My kids are now 5 and 8 and I still need to remind them to share!

  5. Valerie Gray says:

    This is a great timeline to compare age versus capability to share. I am lucky to have a sweet boy who loves to share in the house!

  6. Liz Mays says:

    These are really helpful ways to encourage sharing behavior. It’s interesting how the strategies vary with age.

  7. Debbie Denny says:

    Very good tips. Extra toys to encourage sharing is great.

  8. Pam says:

    Sharing can be hard to teach in some kids. These are great ways to promote sharing.

  9. Christie says:

    My daughter is smack dab in the middle of the 2.5 year mark. We are definitely learning to be a more willing sharer

  10. Shell says:

    So helpful for parents to know what’s appropriate at each stage. Sharing can be a hard lesson to learn.

  11. These are such great tips. I am so thankful that kiddo was always good about sharing. I think that trait really helps her now that she is older.

  12. Jeanine says:

    My kids are pretty good at sharing. There are 6 of them so all their lives they’ve really had to share, and be patient and kind with each other and everyone else. So I haven’t really had to struggle with this with them yet. But this is really great!

  13. Crystal says:

    Those are great tips! I’m a sharer by nature, but it can be a tricky thing to teach.

  14. Penelope says:

    I think most want their children to be a good friend, but it’s hard to know how to achieve that. These sound like practical ways to show children how to be willing to share.

  15. Rosey says:

    We encourage sharing here in a positive way. With a 2yr old and a 7yr old in the house, it can get challenging every now and again. 😉

  16. Ann B says:

    My friends little girl is two and does not like to share. I will have to send this post to her.

  17. I like that your suggestions imply giving the child a choice about sharing too. Sometimes there are toys or certain kids, the kids don’t want to share and I feel it’s important to respect that too.

  18. Sharing is an important part of early development. I’ve never heard of KinderCare before. I’ll check it out.

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