Sharing Friends

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Activities and Discussions

Sharing is a concept that children who regularly play with others tend to learn by the time they are in preschool.

Two and three year olds

Two year olds and young threes are just beginning to be conscious of their own needs and wants and are not yet able to take someone else’s into consideration They may insist on having their own playthings and taking what they want when they want it.

What you can do

At this stage, it is often useful to replace one toy with another, as at this age children can be redirected fairly easily. You want to let the children know it is important “to use your words” instead of just grabbing, while recognizing that developmentally they don’t yet understand what it means to share.

Four and five year olds

Four and five year olds are strongly motivated to play with others and tend to do things to be liked they also are very concerned about fairness. At this age, children can see the advantages of sharing. Furthermore, at preschool and at home with siblings, it is likely there are expectations that children will share.

What you can do

Continue to work on having children “use their words” to resolve problems when several of them want to play with the same toy. Help them look at alternatives such as finding a way to play together or setting a time limit that has one child use the toy first, while the second one gets a turn later. Be sure you discuss how sharing promotes friendship and makes interactions easier and fairer. Talk about ways that adults as well as children need to share.

Six and seven year olds

Six and seven year olds will be aware of what it means to share. They also realize that for them, as for adults, certain possessions have a personal value, which makes them unsuitable for sharing.

What you can do

If your child has something they simply do not want to share, put it away before other children come over or support your child in keeping it from siblings. In general, however, siblings should be encouraged to play cooperatively and exchange toys. Continue to help your children come up with their own solutions by mediating and modeling conflict resolution, rather than imposing your own solutions.

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