Thursday, June 28, 2012

How Do You...Teach Sharing?


How do you teach sharing to your preschool crowd? Lately we've been struggling with sharing and kids fighting over toys.  We have an almost 5-year-old [boy] and a 20-month old [girl].  She is learning what sharing means and he is learning how to manage his frustration with a grabby little sister.  Any advice you have is great.
submitted by Katie

Sharing is a difficult concept for young children.  It's also hard as parents to help our children learn what sharing really means.  I try to think in adult terms before I work with my children. 

Pretend I am eating a piece of chocolate cake.  You come to my house and think it looks good.  Do you then have the right to take my cake and eat it just because you want it?  No one says to me, "Eat just one more bite and then give your guest the rest of your slice of cake." 

Another example: I buy a pillow for my sofa.  You come over and sit on my sofa and lean against the pillow.  Do I snatch it out from behind your back because it is my pillow? 

I try to use the same principles with my children as I help them work out their sharing woes.  I let them know that if they were playing with a particular toy, they do not have to give it up simply because a sibling wants it, too.  I do suggest that when they are done, it would be polite to pass it along to the next person who wants a turn. 

When dealing with toys or books that are family-owned, I stress that everyone has the right to use them and enjoy them.  When dealing with toys or books belong to a particular child, I am sensitive to ownership.  Just because Gavin is not playing with his Legos doesn't mean Owen is free to pick them up and take apart what Gavin built.  Regardless of the circumstances or who is in the right or wrong, I allow no snatching and no throwing.  That automatically makes the once-innocent child share in the guilt. 

I've found that with little children, I have to do most of the thinking and reasoning for them.  They do not understand the concept of sharing.  They only understand the law of selfishness.  It takes many years of consistency before children begin understand and appreciate sharing.

How do you work on sharing with your children?  Let us know in the comments. 

Also, if you have a question for a future "How Do You...?" post, share that in the comments, too, or send me an e-mail! I'd love to hear from you. 


  1. Thanks Kristin! I like your analogy about the piece of cake. We'll keep plugging away :)

  2. We had better success with sharing when a timer was involved. Once it has been established the possessor has the right to have the item and no one can snatch it from them [I thought you wrote these concepts SO WELL, Kristin] then I would put on my watch timer and [this is assuming it is something to be shared] in 5 minutes they would allow someone else a turn. BUT if they satisfied their needs sooner and gave up the item in less than 5 minutes I was quick to praise them and compliment them.

    I think it is important to notice how often they do share and to teach a bit of territorial priorities. The things on this shelf or in this underbed box are Hunter's treasures. You can not ever take things out of here just because. Even if you don't agree with what he treasures.

    Compliment them out loud to them directly and to someone else. Let them overhear you saying nice things about their sharing!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...