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Parent Guide Updated: Learning To Share


Toddlers playing together

In this blog post, we'll explore why learning to share is important for under 5s and how to support developing this at home.

Sharing is caring


It’s a common phrase your little one will hear in social settings. Sharing toys, snacks or anything else is seen as obligatory from an early age.


The pressures to raise your little one to be kind and generous can result in you forcing your little one to share things before they learn why it’s important.


Sharing, of course, is an important aspect of socialising and forming friendships. Learning this allows your child to play by taking turns. Develops patience and helps manage disappointments.


Allowing your child to experiment with the difference between sharing and not sharing can help them better understand compromise, fairness and conflict resolution. In turn, they’ll want to share rather than just feel pressured to do so.


Babies playing together

Here are some tips to encourage your child to learn about the importance of sharing:


Lead by example


Children are like sponges! They’re amazing at absorbing the information around them. The same goes for behaviours that they are shown on a daily basis. If you as a parent or carer, model sharing behaviours, your little one is likely to do the same.

Encourage positive behaviours


When working on reinforcing a particular behaviour, positive encouragement is key.


Specific praise when you observe your little one sharing can be a big reassurance – for example, ‘That was really kind of you to share your toy with Alex, did you see how happy it made them?’.


Making the praise specific will help your little one identify how sharing makes others feel and encourage them to take the initiative to share without influence for a positive reward.

Teach Responses

It’s good for children to learn phrases that they can use when they choose not to share. Being assertive in their decision but also kind, can help them develop respect for both themselves and others.

To conclude, learning to share is a process. Allowing your child to develop this themselves will help them better understand the ‘why’ behind it and so share because they want to, rather than because they have to.

Guide to resolve


When we intervene in social situations between children, we can interrupt learning experiences.


Rather than giving your little one the solution (i.e. telling them to take turns to share), try to guide them to find their own solution or compromise.


Prompts like ‘there’s only one toy you both want to play with, what can we do?’ can be useful.


Sharing is optional


Adults have the option of whether to share or not and with whom. When an adult is using something, the other person waits till they’re finished – children should be treated in the same way.

If you force your little one to share, it’s much more likely they will feel upset/angry, not generous. This will make them less likely to share in the future as they will see it as a punishment.


Make exceptions


In some cases, your little one not wanting to share is understandable, for instance, if it’s a special toy or if they are focused on an activity.


Giving them more freedom to choose whether they share is going to make it a more positive experience.


There are some great picture books out there that can teach your little one more about and encourage sharing. Here are some of our suggestions (all available on amazon).


I Can Share by Sarah Read


Kindness written by Pat-a-Cake, illustrated by Louise Forshaw

Sharing a Shell written by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Lydia Monks

The Squirrels Who Squabbled by Rachel Bright


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