Parenting Tip: Teaching Kids to Share

sharing (not)

Does this sound familiar!

  • If it’s mine it’s mine,
    if it’s yours it’s mine,
    if I like it is mine,
    if I can take it from you it is mine,
    if I am playing with something ALL of the pieces are mine,
    if I think it is mine it is,
    if I saw it first it’s mine,
    if I had it then put it down it is still mine,
    if you had it then you put it down it is now mine,
    if it looks like the one I have at home it is mine,
    if it is broken it is yours.

Sharing. It’s daunting to just think about. Listening to kids scream and squabble over toys is maddening, and teaching kids to share can make potty training seem like a walk in the park.

Whether you’re struggling to get siblings to share with each other, or you are worried because your kid is the one in the sandbox that rakes all the toys over to his side, understanding how kids develop ideas about possession and sharing will add a few more tools to your parenting toolbox, and help you raise children that are truly generous.

Know What to Expect
Having reasonable expectations is the first step to raising generous children. Trying to enforce rules on a child that is not able to understand what you’re asking for will only cause frustration and anger, and may do more harm than good in the long run.

As babies begin to separate from their mothers, they start to develop the notorious concept of “mine”. It may sound greedy coming out of your babe’s mouth at first, but it is actually the first step in the right direction towards learning how to share. Being able to determine an object’s worth and then understand who possesses it (me!) is a complex concept.

At first, babies and toddlers will not have the impulse control, or they may be too self-centered to be able to share prized toys, but even a one-year-old will share bits of food with parents, or feed their dollies with sippies and bottles. Around the age of three, most children have developed the self-control to begin mastering a bit of delayed gratification. They can learn to take turns, and begin to understand that by waiting for turns, everyone can be happier.

Tips for Teaching Children How to Share

  1. Model Generosity. Monkey see, monkey do. Show your children what sharing looks like. Whenever possible, demonstrate sharing so kids can see how it works. Offer to share a snack, or play blocks together.The larger concepts of sharing may not be understood at first, but soon you’ll see them imitating your behavior and you will know you’re on the right track.
  2. Play. Playing games that involve sharing gives kids the chance to have some fun while practicing skills. Playing board games that require taking turns will teach delayed gratification and cooperation, and kids won’t even realize they are learning.
  3. Positive reinforcement. Always point out when you see good behavior. Simply saying “Good sharing, boys!” will help kids know when they’ve got it right so they know what to keep doing.
  4. The Special Toy. Every child has their favorite book, stuffed animal, or race car. Keeping those objects out of the general collection of toys can help kids understand value and worth. And knowing their absolute favorite items are safe will make sharing everything else that much easier.

Patience, Patience…
Of course, always have patience. Plenty of it. Kids may not master sharing until shortly after they move out of the home, and even then they will have roommates and spouses to bicker over the shampoo and potato chips with. No child will ever be perfect, but once you see your child display true generosity, you will know that your work has paid off.


Thomas Learning Centers provides NECPA accredited preschool and childcare at the most affordable rates in the Denver Metro Area.  Check us out at , click on the offers below, drop in for a visit to get to know more about us. We’d love to meet you!

Call  877-938-1442 for general info

Lakewood 303-237-0917 or Westminster 303-427-8831


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