The idea of sharing doesn’t come freely to young children. It is something they learn with the help and modeling of caring adults and from their own life experiences. In general, toddlers, and often young three-year-olds, believe that the world revolves around only them. Even though preschoolers gradually learn what taking turns means, they aren’t always keen about sharing.

If you ask young children to share something, they may think you are taking it away from them. They don't know (and need to learn) that they will get it back. They need time to cognitively understand that when people share, everyone has more to play with, and that there are more things to enjoy while playing. Young children need opportunities to practice seeing situations from another child's point of view.

One way to demonstrate sharing is for young children to see older children or grownups sharing and then imitate that behavior. Children can also learn sharing, and understand that they will get another turn too, from characters in books or with familiar television characters such as Daniel Tiger from DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD.

The reluctance to share doesn't mean that young children are selfish. On the contrary, they frequently attempt to comfort others they see in distress. Those attempts are often actions that they'd find comforting themselves, so they offer a hug or a toy as a way to comfort another child or adult.

In this set of resources, we will focus on how you can help children work on developing the social skill of sharing.

There will be times in life when everyone needs to share. By having caring adults around who can help young children learn that sharing is one way to build friendships, children can learn that sharing with friends (who have become important to them) is more fun than keeping things just for themselves.