Home parenting How do you learn kids to share? – It’s that easy

How do you learn kids to share? – It’s that easy

by ines.wurbs@icloud.com

It is important to many parents that their children share. But sharing needs to be learned, we humans are not born with this ability, but we have all the abilities we need to do so.

The following points will help our children learn to share:

  • self-regulation
  • Positive expectations (about the consequences of sharing)
  • When everyone tries
  • friendships
  • perspective takeover
  • role models
  • Be prepared to share
  • practice sharing
  • Play encourages sharing
  • Praise

Should kids be taught to share?

Sharing is a social skill. Accordingly, sharing affects relationships with other people. Taking a step back and sharing creates good relationships with others. Sharing is closely related to justice. Children are more willing to give something to others if all the children have tried or achieved something.

Sharing is therefore an important prerequisite for a sense of justice. Whoever sharing normally minimizes our own profit in favor of the other. This creates a good feeling in the other person, a feeling of gratitude, but also connectedness. Small children in particular still define their friendships in this way. Sharing shows the other that their well-being and concerns are also being taken care of.

Those who do not share are also often referred to as greedy, although this is not always the case. But sharing clearly has a very positive connotation in our society, and not sharing is generally considered a bad quality.

When we think of sharing, we often think of goods. In fact, it is also about information. Knowledge and information can also be shared or not. That is why learning to share is important from an early age. This makes it easier to share not only objects but also information later on. That increases teamwork.

When does a child can learn to share?

At the beginning of infancy, our children are still very self-centered. They can only be aware of their own thoughts and perspectives. However, the perspectives of others are not yet tangible to them. From about 1.5 years to 2 years, children start to share. Most of the time, however, they want the thing back at this age. The first sharing is often seen with food. Feeding someone else is often a lot of fun for children at this age.

Things are different with toys. This needs to continue well beyond infancy. Learning to share is a process that starts around the age of 2 and ends roughly at the start of school age. Subtleties are also learned in depth later on. 

“There is an infallible recipe for dividing a thing fairly between two people: one of them gets to determine the portions, and the other has the choice.”

 Gustav Stresemann

How do you help your child learn to share

The following tips will help your child learn to share more easily:

Learn self-regulation

Self-regulation means being able to adapt your own emotions and needs to the situation. This is of course particularly important for sharing. Take yourself back to share with others. Of course, this skill needs to be practiced, and it only starts to develop around the age of 2.

The best way to do this is to explain and describe your feelings to your children. Then look for common ways and find solutions on how best to show these emotions. I have compiled more detailed information about self-regulation in connection with patience for you here.

Having positive expectations about the consequences

When your child understands the benefits of sharing, they are more likely to share. That means it is helpful if you explain them to your child. You can also directly highlight the benefits in parts-related situations.

Maybe there’s a good reason the other kid didn’t share, or perhaps they just need to practice, too. It’s also important to mention that not everything has to be shared all the time. More on that is below. Finally, you can also emphasize that your child made the other person happy and that the situation was nice for both of you. 

When everyone tries

Children and adults prefer to share when we have the feeling that everyone has tried to reach the goal or the reward. I don’t mean that every reward has to be shared. A win is a win that doesn’t have to be shared. If you win, you can also enjoy your victory and the possible benefit from it.

But if everyone has run diligently and one child has won, but one child has no snack with them, it is fair, for example, if the snack is shared because everyone is probably hungry.

Friendships are beneficial

We also prefer to share with people we like than with strangers or with people, we don’t like. We should explain to our children that it might still be good to share with other people as friends. But also explain that it is his own decision and does not always have to be shared.

However, we as parents can use sharing with friends to bring sharing closer to our children.

Practice taking other people’s perspectives.

Being able to take the perspective of others is an important prerequisite for learning to share. However, that also needs to be learned. Our children are still very self-centered and cannot imagine the perspectives of others by the time they are 3 years old.

This is quite normal in terms of development. From kindergarten age, however, this ability begins to develop gradually. As parents, we can start by asking more often: “What do you think? How does Linda see it?” Then suggest things to the child. In this way, your child gains experience through you and broadens his or her views.

Role models

Role models are vital for our children. Also, regarding sharing. If we show our children that we share, they will probably start to do the same.

Be prepared

It’s good to have the chance to prepare your child for sharing. For example, when parents come with other children. It’s a good idea to talk to your child ahead of time about this. Now that the children are coming, they will also play with his/her toys. But the toy still belongs to your child, and the children only use it here to play. They have to leave it here.

This way, your child won’t be as surprised and will know that they will keep the toy anyway, even if others play with it for a short time.

Practice sharing

Take every chance to practice. This can be at the playground, with other kids, or at your location. With other children or with you. The more often you have the opportunity to do this, the better. This is how your child gathers experiences, good and bad, and knows how to deal with the situation. It can better assess what is happening and this reduces your child’s uncertainness factor. This makes it easier for him/her to share.

Play encourages sharing

Sharing can also be practiced with games. In many games, you have to share something, for example, the dice. I made up a few more games below. 
But books in which children share something or which are about sharing are also excellent for discussion. Of course, it still takes practice. 


Praise your child when they have shared or when they have done well or tried to explain to another child why they do not want or cannot share this time. You can also use a reward board for this. This usually motivates our children even more.

Explaining parts to children

A critical point is of course to explain to our children what sharing really is and why we should share. You can do this with examples or with the help of books. This makes it easier for children to understand the situation. Here I have written a short explanation for you, which you can read together with your child:

“Imagine you are going on a hike with your friend…(insert friend’s name). You are both very diligent and go on really far. Eventually, it’s time for a break. You both worked very hard and are looking forward to a good bite, which you really deserve. After you both have eaten your bread, you discover that I have wrapped you a small bar of chocolate. Your friend… hasn’t brought any dessert with him, however, and you notice that he would also like to have a piece of the delicious chocolate. He might even ask you. Now, if you split the chocolate and give him a piece, that’s sharing. If you split it right in the middle, it’s even divided into equal parts, and you have the same amount of chocolate.
So, you can both enjoy the chocolate. Your friend will probably be pleased and grateful to you. Other times when he has something, and maybe you don’t, he will share it with you too if that’s possible.

In any case, you both have dessert and a small reward because you have both been hiking so diligently and nobody is sad about it.”

Learning to share with only children

Of course, only children can learn to share, just like siblings. They usually just have less practice at it because the possibility doesn’t come up that often. But we as parents can also ask our children to share. Particularly if you have an only child, you should occasionally ask your child if they share something with you, such as food or toys.

Sharing with parents may seem unusual to many, but it serves its purpose. Sharing with someone important to you is even easier for most people, including our children. So, while it’s not required, it’s still wise to ask your child to share it with you.

Invite friends of your child over, this is the best opportunity to practice. You can as well take your own toys to other kids or the playground and then practice sharing them with your child. Normally, children find it easier to share when they are away from home. Sharing things at home would be the master class, so to speak, especially for only children. But is still important. Provide as many opportunities as possible for your child to practice with other parts.

Children don’t have to share

Of course, it’s equally important for children to know that they don’t have to share everything. Some things are particularly important to us and also to our children, and these belong only to them. Even we adults don’t want to share everything with everyone. We should allow our children to do the same.

We parents often apply a different standard to our children than we do to ourselves. Furthermore, we see sharing as a positive quality, and it is worth striving for. That’s why we sometimes urge our children to do the same. However, we should keep in mind that even children have limits, even when it comes to sharing.

Excluded from sharing should definitely be the children’s favorite objects, for example, the cuddly teddy bear that our children go to bed with every day. We can ask them, but we should also be able to accept a no from our children for certain objects.

In general, however, children should already learn to share. As mentioned above, sharing is one of the most important social skills and also promotes teamwork.

What to do when a schoolkid cannot share

By school age, children should already be able to share. However, it can happen that your child has not yet experienced the need and has therefore not yet been able to practice sharing sufficiently. Then it’s time.

Even at school age, you can still apply all the tips mentioned above. It is best to take time every day to practice and discuss sharing with your child. Perhaps you can also have a conversation with the teacher. There may also be good opportunities at school where your child can practice sharing.

Learning to share: games


All children collect three things from the room and put them in a pile. Then each child can take two things in turn and put them in front of them. If a child wants to swap, they can ask the other child. If that wishes to swap, fine, if it doesn’t want to swap, that’s fine too.

Then it is suggested whether they might want to play together or for how long, and who can play with which toys. In the end, a game is played together. Everyone demonstrates a movement and the other imitates it. In this way, the children close the situation together with a positive experience and lots of fun.

Food delivery

Food is to be shared. A child is allowed to cut food, such as a banana. And the other child or children can then choose first, the child who shared last. Of course, this can then be practiced with all the children present.

Spell and game that makes sharing easier

This songs comes from the music and rhyme station and makes sharing with a rhyme more exciting. Just jump to the page for a brief description and the rhyming text.

For interested readers

If you want to know more about sharing is caring, a study of food sharing in early childhood, I can recommend this work Wallace R., Lombardi K., De Backer C., and Costello L.

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