Sharing may be caring, but try telling that to a four-year-old with a glow-in-the-dark yo-yo. Fact is, kids only start to understand the concept of sharing around age three, and may take years after that to regularly practice it. Still, you can encourage the behavior with the eight tips we share here.

 

Share and share alike.

Kids watch what you do, so make sure they see you sharing with others — including them. When your spouse or child walks in the living room, for example, make a point of saying, “Here, I’ll move over so I can share the couch with you!” Or next time you’re out to eat, offer to share your fries with the rest of the family.

 

Acknowledge that some toys are special.

It’s okay if your child doesn’t want to share a few particularly prized toys; just put them away before other kids come over. And let them know that if they want to take a toy with them to the park or a friend’s house, they’ll need to share it.

 

Identify a few good sharing toys.

Before friends come over, ask your kid to pull out a few toys that would be fun to share, such as a jigsaw puzzle, soccer ball, playing cards, or paper and crayons.

 

Suggest sharing instead of forcing it.

Instead of “You’ve been playing with that for long enough; now give your sister a turn!”, try “Looks like your sister is interested in your jump rope. Maybe you can show her how to do it?”

 

Give them time to sort it out.

If they’re arguing over a toy, resist the urge to step in right away; instead, see if they can work out a solution for themselves.

 

Set a toy timer.

Kids still fighting over the same toy? Try setting a timer for five minutes for the kid who doesn’t want to give it up, then let the other child have it for five minutes, and so on. And if they still can’t reach a peace accord? Put the toy out of reach until they stop arguing over it.

 

Play together.

Practice sharing and taking turns with board games like Q’s Race to the Top. Or play dolls or race cars with them and talk about how much fun it is to share and play together.

 

Praise them when they do share.

Nothing reinforces good behavior like positive feedback from parents. Anytime you catch your kids sharing, let them know how proud you are of them.

 

Help your kids develop social and emotional skills — and have fun while they’re doing it — with Q Wunder!