Updated: Apr 21, 2021
There are two parts on how to teach children sharing , one part is teaching them asking for a turn, the other part is to teach them offering sharing. For the first part, the most important point is to teach children is what are the polite and smart ways to phrase your asking. For the second part, there are several ways to persuade kids sharing, which are listed in this article. Remember that do NOT force children to share. Every kid has his/her own pace and it takes time for them to learn how to share.
Part I: How to teach children asking for a turn
These steps help children to be prepared and learn how to express themselves on requesting sharing things in a polite and acceptable way.
Step 1: Encourage children to ask for a turn
At the beginning, young kids may be shy but they really want to play the toys other kids are playing. A prep talk about how to ask for a turn is necessary. Tell children a story is helpful. For example, a rabbit wants to play with a toy his friend kitten is playing but not daring to ask. A fawn came, asked kitten for that toy, and kitten gave the toy to the fawn. Playing a similar game can also help children to understand if they ask, they will have a good chance to get the toy. Try not to use negative word such as "don't", "no", or "stop".
Step 2: Ask children to talk first
Always ask children to be polite to other kids by talking first. If they try to grab the toys without saying anything, the whole process should be stopped. For young children, you may want to give some examples on how to talk. Sentences like "May I play with you", "Shall I have your toy for two minutes", or "Can we play together" are good examples.
Step 3: Guide children for further attempts if rejected
If your child asks for a turn but is rejected, you may guide them for further attempts. You may ask your child to think about what to say. Some kids may want the toy because of its beautiful colors, while others just like its shape. Encourage your kid speaks out why he/she likes the toy and ask for a turn again, again, and again, or until he/she gives up. Do not force children to try multiple times if they are not willing to. The purpose of this step is to make children express themselves and be more active on communication.
Step 4: Offer a reward for not succeed
If your child is not succeed in asking for a turn, do not let he/she think it is a failure. Offer a reward, and help him/her review what he/she did is great and what he/she did needs improvement. Remember that teaching children to share is a long time task, and needs a lot of effort.
Part II: How to teach children sharing with others
Teaching children sharing does not mean forcing children to share. If children are not willing to share, you may try different ways, but never force it. Here are some ways you may try to help children understand the importance of sharing.
Way 1: Set up timer for taking turns
You may say "What about you two take turns every two minutes?" or "You have played for a long time. Can that kid plays for 2 minutes then gives it back to you?" Let your child set up his/her own timer(time length), and make an agreement with other kids.
Way 2: Offer rewards/praises if children agree to share
Reinforce your child's positive actions by offering a reward or praises. When you praise your child, use details such as "See the smile on Tom's face? You did a great job!" or "Tom said he will be your friend now. How wonderful!" As of reward, do not offer big things at the beginning. Start with small things such as a piece of small candy so that later if there are more difficult cases, you can offer bigger rewards such as a set of lego.
Way 3: Make children believe that it is fun to play together
Playing games that take more than one kid, or showing children how to work together with others to complete something (such as building a sand castle) will help them have more fun as a team. As long as they understand how to play together for more fun, children will share.
Way 4: Let children know if they are nice to others, others will also be nice to them
This strategy is most useful between siblings. Ask children how they would like to be treated. Do they like to have a turn of the things they want? Do they want to be treated nicely? When they treat others nicely, others will also offer things to them later. For example, if the younger sibling is interested in the lego which your older kid is playing with, but the older one does not want to share with the younger one. You may persuade the older kid that next time the younger kid will be willing to share snacks if the older one agrees to share lego this time.
Way 5: Trade the toys
Ask children whether they have toys interested in from other kids so that they can trade. For example, if a kid is interested in the toy truck your child has and that kid has a toy car, you may tell you child how to play the toy car and how fun it will be so that you child will agree to trade toys.
Way 6: Role play
You may reminder your child of his/her past experiences on being rejected. Ask your child to think about what the other kid will feel if your child refuses to share. Will the other kid feel disappointed? Sad? What your child can do to help? Then you may guide your child to share if he/she shows sympathy to other kids.
Last but not least, if your child really does not want to share, you need to teach them how to say it politely. Things like "I will share with you next time", or "I will let you play after I am done" will be generous. Besides, ask your child why he/she does not want to share. You may get all kids of answers from "I do not like that kid" to "That toy is too precious", or even "I do not want to share today". Discuss the answers with them patiently and try to find the solutions so that you can try new ways next time.