Camilla McGill

How do I get my child to share?

Dec 08, 2022
When a child won't share

Why Won't They Share?

As a parent you will have probably noticed that forcing a child to share, doesn’t get you very far.

They will often kick up a huge fuss and hold onto the toy so hard that you have to yank it out of their hand if you really want to take it away, which leaves you and everyone concerned feeling stressed.

Here's something to consider...what are you like when you're very absorbed in reading something and someone else wants it? I have to confess that if I’m reading a magazine article and someone wants to read it, I am VERY reluctant to hand it straight over - are you?

I’m pretty happy to pass it on once I’ve read it and might forgo reading the rest of the magazine in order to share, but I really don't like to give it away when I've just started to read.

Kids have the same initial experience - their instinct is to keep hold of what they’re playing with but they can be really helped by three things.

What Can We Do to Help?

  1. We start off with the assumption that it’s hard to share, so if we state their feelings to them, they feel understood:
    “George, you like having the truck to play with. You want it all to yourself and you don’t want to share yet”
    Leave a pause and then ask a solution-finding question:
    “Anna wants to play too so what could you do?”. If we use this method regularly they will start to suggest solutions like ‘5 minutes each’.

  2. This leads on to teaching toddlers (and older kids) about turn-taking. I recommend doing a lot of practice and modelling with turn taking with a game.  "Today I’m going to go first picking a puzzle piece, then it’s your turn" 
    "Let's play that matching game that we like.  First I'll let you choose, then you need to let me choose a pair.  That doesn't always feel good does it to give someone else a turn?"
    Schools are really great at encouraging turn-taking so the more we practise turn-taking at home, the easier it becomes for our toddlers.

  3. If you are having a playdate at your house, two things can help in preparation. Firstly your child could put away their absolute favourite toys and tell them that they don’t have to share those.
    The second thing is about ownership, so say something like:
    “When Freya comes to play, she will want to play with your toys. The toys do belong to you. They are your toys and when she leaves, she won’t take them away. They will still be your toys but when she's here, we need to take turns and share".

Want to know more? If you'd like to check out my FREE guides, I have a few to choose from - Managing tantrums and mood swings, or How to Get your Child to Listen without ever needing to nag or shout  CLICK HERE to see them


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