Sharing is considered to be an important aspect of human cooperative activities that have roots very early in life. Sharing emerges early; however, it seems to be a unique challenge for young children. It is observed that resource sharing is a much less frequent activity in children compared to other cooperative activities. Toddlers rarely share their toys with others; whereas, the rate of sharing increases from 12 to 30 months of age. Sharing is difficult for children probably because it involves a sacrifice of something valued for them for the good of someone else.
It can be challenging for young children to learn to share, but sharing is an important skill that kids need for playing and learning throughout childhood. You can play a major role in helping your child to learn to share by giving them enough time and opportunities to practice.
Why sharing is important?
- Sharing is a crucial skill that should be learned by all children so that they can make and keep friends and play cooperatively.
- Once your child starts going out to play and going to child care, preschool or kindergarten, he/ she will need to share with others.
- Sharing teaches about compromise and fairness.
- Children who can share, can learn how to take turns and how to cope with disappointment as these are all important life skills.
Helping your child learn about sharing
Children learn lots of things just by watching what their parents do. When you model good sharing and turn-taking in your family, your children will get a great example to follow.
You can give children opportunities to learn about and practise sharing in everyday life:
- When you notice that your child is trying to share or take turns, make sure you give him/ her praise and attention.
- Get involved in playing games with your child that involve sharing and turn-taking. Talk to your child through the steps, such as, ‘Now it’s my turn to build the tower, then it’s your turn. You share the blued blocks with me and I’ll share the red blocks with you’.
- You can talk to your child about sharing before he/ she goes out to play with other children or when your child starts going to child care or preschool.
- By age three, many children begin to understand turn-taking and sharing. But sometimes they might not be able to put sharing into action when it comes to giving something up. They might still be impatient when waiting for the turn.
- You should be realistic about a preschooler’s ability to share. At this age, the majority of kids are still learning and can find it difficult to understand other people’s thoughts and emotions.
- Wu Z, Su Y. Development of Sharing in Preschoolers in Relation to Theory of Mind Understanding. Cognitive science. 2013 Jul;35:3811-6.
- Sharing and learning to share[Internet]. Available at: https://raisingchildren.net.au/toddlers/behaviour/friends-siblings/sharing#:~:text=Why%20sharing%20is%20important&text=Sharing%20teaches%20children%20about%20compromise,are%20all%20important%20life%20skills. Accessed on Aug 31, 2020.