My Child Doesn't Know How to Share

At a certain age, children learn how to share. To enjoy this value, the need to have a certain degree of maturity. Learn more.
My Child Doesn't Know How to Share

Last update: 12 February, 2022

It’s at a certain age that we learn to enjoy the pleasure of sharing. The joy of sharing with others spices up our lives, but it’s important that we insist that children need to have a certain degree of maturity in order to understand how divine this act is. Does your child not know how to share? They’ll learn to do it, don’t worry. Maybe it’s hard for them now, like every little child, just give them time and guidance to see wonderful results.

Many parents say with extreme concern: My child doesn’t know how to share. Some feel a little frustrated and ignore how common it is for children to not want to share their belongings, especially if the child is between 18 months and two years old.

Added to that concern is the confusion they experience not knowing what to do when this happens. That is why parents often force the child to share their toys; however, this attitude causes the opposite effect on the baby who may cling even more than before to their object and their stubbornness.

So, before forcing your child to share, it’s good to take some aspects into consideration. First of all, you need to know that sharing is an action that requires trust, empathy, and security, and these principles work in the same way for us adults.

We share with people we trust and this is a fact. Adults, however altruistic we may be, must recognize that we don’t share all our belongings and feelings with everyone, so why do we think it should be different with children?

Four young boys reading a book together.

Sharing requires trust

Between 18 months and two years of age, social relationships with children of the same age tend to be quite unstable because they form and dissolve easily.

The friendships your child makes, although fruitful, are short-lived because they die out as contact with that child becomes impossible. Also, most of their friendships are very changeable because, at this age, children change playmates very often.

But, in addition, your child faces another crucial difficulty because they still don’t speak very well, they lack the language skills to establish agreements; and to share objects, it’s definitely necessary to reach certain agreements, for example, I lend you my toy car, but then you give it back to me.

These circumstances having to do with the child’s age make it difficult for them to trust another child to want to share their belongings with them. However, as you know, this situation won’t last forever, as it will change as your child grows and acquires skills.

When your child is between 3 and 5 years old, relationships with children of the same age begin to be more stable, they’re already attending school and can speak more fluently. In addition, their sense of friendship is developing more deeply and their language is getting richer every day. All these abilities that evolve gradually enable them to share their belongings with whomever they consider their friends.

With all these aspects in consideration, it’s vital that you avoid forcing your child to share their belongings with other people or children. If they don’t want to, don’t force them to do it, because they may not be ready for it yet.

Therefore, when you understand the situation in all its dimensions and don’t force them to do something they don’t want to do, you’re helping them to defend their personal space, to learn to say no, and to assert themself. Your child must learn all these aspects in a peaceful and non-aggressive way, and in this area, your intervention and guidance as a parent are fundamental.

Two little girls holdinghands and crossing a wooden bridge together.

Trusting is crucial in order to be able to share

It’s essential that you find a middle ground to not force children to accept interactions with other people or adults when they don’t want to. It’s not healthy to teach kids to say yes to everything against their will, the most sensible thing is for them to learn that saying no isn’t offensive or inappropriate.

Applying these concepts, you’ll be helping your child to develop self-assertion, assertiveness, and self-care strategies; so when they’re older and have to face an uncomfortable or dangerous situation, they’ll know how to say no because they’ve developed the necessary skills to do so.

And although it may seem contradictory, this has nothing to do with encouraging your child not to learn to share. Ideally, you should accompany them in their social development process so that they learn together with you to be able to share. They’ll do it someday, rest assured, you just have to respect their rhythms and personal preferences.

It’s crucial that during this process, you teach your child how important it is to respect the well-being of others. How do you do that? By talking… it’s vital that they understand that when another child doesn’t want to share their things with them, they must respect that. Just as their own decisions are respected, so must the decisions of others.

You’ll see that as time goes by, your child will share their toys with certain people and at certain times. The best thing you can do is to observe your child in order to determine under what circumstances and with which children they feel confident enough to share their things, so you can help them share more easily.

You can reinforce the value of sharing by telling them that it’s okay for others to use their things and that it’s also okay to take care of them and to make sure others take care of them. Over time, your child will discover that sharing is a natural human activity. We all love to share content on social networks, a good meal with the people we love, a conversation, and a coffee with a good friend…

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.