Teaching Kids to Share

Teaching Kids to Share

When you’ve got 3 boys of the same age with similar tastes, one thing is certain – they fight… a LOT! And many times it’s because someone else has the ONE toy / book / puzzle / piece of trash that the other wants. They are 6 years old now and still haven’t mastered the art of sharing!

But there are a few things my husband and I do, to teach them how to share. Let’s just say that if we hadn’t done these things in the past, we’d have a mini world war on our hands every single day! πŸ™‚

So, I though I’d share from my own experience the strategies we followed to teach our kids to share.

{I have to add a disclaimer here, because our kids are in no way perfect, neither are our methods. For proof – read the first paragraph again πŸ™‚ }

But for the most part, these methods have played a vital role in teaching our kids to share their things – with each other, and with their friends.

1. The Timer

This was one of the first tools we employed. When more than one son wanted to play with a particular toy, we would obviously ask them to share and play. If they wouldn’t, I would set a countdown timer on my phone – usually for 5 or 10 minutes. When the time was up, the kid who had the toy, had to give it to the next one in line, and the timer was reset.

After a few weeks, months of doing this, they got the point. On a good day, they automatically take turns by looking at the big hand of the clock.

Here is a sample conversation:

Jason: Judah, I want to play with the race car.
Judah: But I’m playing with it! {Insert whining here}
Jason: Tell me which time you’ll give it then.
Judah: OK. Till the big hand touches 5, I’ll play with it.
Jason: But 5 is too far! {Insert more whining}
Judah: OK, then till 4.
Jason: OK!

Like I said, it’s not perfect and there maybe a little whining, and a bit of parental intervention. But they have learnt the art of sharing (and apparently, negotiation)!

2. The Table

This is more of a consequence for not sharing, but it did teach my boys that they had to share. On a bad day, when we’ve had lots of fights breaking out (it’s usually over LEGO’s which we never seem to have enough of), we ban the boys from playing with whatever it is that’s causing friction among them.

My husband or I pick up the toy and place it on the dining table, with strict instructions that they can’t touch it until they learn how to share and play together. We’ve had banned toys littering our dining table, the entertainment center, my work table, and the top of cupboards for days… until they are willing to will play without fighting over it.

3. The Suitcase

This method, is by far the most extreme. A couple of years ago, the boys were going through a phase where they would fight over just about any toy they laid their hands on. It was about that time, I came across a blog post at I Can Teach My Child.Β This couple had actually locked up all their sons’ toys!

I suggested the same to my husband, and he thought it was a good idea. He brought out a suitcase and in went ALL they toys. The boys begged and pleaded, but we were firm that they would not get their toys back until they learned to share. So, they went a week without any toys – I kid you not! They found other things to do, and when they did get their toys back, they were truly grateful and learned to play together.

So, that’s it! The imperfect methods & unusual tools that I used to teach my sons to share. How did you teach your kids to share? Do tell…


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2 comments to Teaching Kids to Share

  • Shirls

    I love all the methods Sheena! Going to keep them in mind and use them with Asher and Anna πŸ™‚ I have found the table method effective. In my case it’s the fridge( on top of the fridge!) Anna is too little to understand to share so when a fight for a toy gets too bad ( I wait to look for any signs of sharing!) I take it from them. Asher gets the point and I hope in time Anna will too πŸ™‚

    • That sounds like a great idea! They usually forget all about the toy after a while, don’t they? πŸ™‚ I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before they learn to take turns and play together.

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