3 ways to Practice the Skill of Sharing with Toddlers and Preschoolers

Many of us want our little ones to share. It’s an expression of care, kindness and compassion. We want our littles to grow up showing that they are kind and caring individuals, especially as they interact with new kids in new environments like parties or school.

But have you ever thought about what smaller skills are needed in order to be successful at sharing?

In order to share, it requires pausing, recognizing the needs of others, and in the end it requires giving up something that you have.

There are simple activities you can do at home to teach sharing. Or as I like to call it turn taking.

Using the words “turn taking” is easier for little ones to understand as you begin to teach sharing since it can be a prerequisite skill and turn taking implies you’re getting it back.

Sharing sounds so abstract!

Sure you may need them to give up something at some point, but introduce the skill by using the concept of turn taking.

Playing games or embedding the skill of turn taking during play sets them up for greater success down the road.

Here are three simple ways to do turn taking activities.

1. During play if you are building, or digging, or knocking down things. Express, “child’s turn, then say “mom’s turn” and repeat while you take turns. Praise them for the turn taking and how much fun it is to watch the other person while waiting for a turn.

2. Play a copycat game with them. First you do a motion, then they copy you. Introduce the word that you are taking turns. Do this game first with just your body and motions such as covering your eyes, making a silly face, or jumping. Then, add in a prop such as a doll, a bear or a car and do an action with the item.

3. Start adding this turn taking into an activity that is familiar such as coloring. If you only have one of a certain color, practice how to take turns with that color, Start it out with a less favorite color and offer them to take a turn after you. Or if they seem ready to take turns with you on something they’re using, ask them for a turn.

And lastly, an important tip is how long to take turns during the activity. For example, if you’re just starting this out and they’re not used to taking turns, try to just do it for less than a minute the first couple of times. To them a minute is a long wait. You can even count to 10 as you help them wait for a turn. Watch them start to count.

If they’re an older preschooler, or are ready for a longer wait time, try using a timer and making it take a full minute.

Believe it or not, these are the kinds of things teachers will use to help kids get more comfortable with turn taking or otherwise known as sharing.

Just remember, the concept of taking turns helps little ones know they’ll get it back.

Sharing is abstract and you can introduce this word when they’re ready for it or if situations come up like sharing snacks with siblings.

To learn more check out this short video or download the Get Behavior You Love guidebook.

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