Learning to Share: 8 Things Parents Should Do

Sharing is a big part of life, and it's no different when it comes to babies. It is an essential life skill that will help your child's social and emotional development. When it comes to babies learning to share, there are a few things that parents should do in order to help them. By following these tips, your baby will be able to learn how to share with others in a fun and positive way.  

1. Encourage Taking Turns Early

One of the best things you can do for your baby is to encourage turn-taking from an early age. Turn-taking is vital for your baby's cognitive, social, and emotional development. It helps babies learn to regulate their emotions, take turns with others, and develop a sense of empathy. There are many easy ways to encourage turn-taking with your baby. For example, when you're playing with your baby, take turns making faces back and forth, or offer your baby a toy and then let them offer it back to you. You can also sing songs or read books together, taking turns saying the different parts. By taking turns with your baby often, you'll help them develop the essential skills they need to thrive

Related Link: Infant Social Development: Everything You Need to Know

2. Teach Them to Ask For Permission

It may seem silly, but teaching your baby to ask for permission is a very important life skill. As they grow up and enter the world, they will need to know how to interact with others respectfully. Asking for permission is a great way to show that you respect someone else's personal space and boundaries. It's also an excellent way to avoid potential conflict. So, how can you teach your baby to ask for permission? When you want to interact with your baby, say, "May I please pick you up?" or "Can I give you a kiss?" You can also use baby sign language to help them understand the concept of asking for permission. Then, provide opportunities for them to practice. For example, offer them a toy and see if they will offer it to you before taking it. With a bit of patience and practice, your baby will eventually learn this important life lesson.

3. Help Them Understand Their Feelings

It's crucial for your child to understand their feelings, especially when it comes to sharing. If they're feeling angry or upset when sharing their items, try to show kindness and be calm. Helping your baby understand their emotions has benefits that will last a lifetime. For starters, it can help your baby feel more comfortable and confident expressing themselves as they grow older. It can also help them develop better-coping skills for dealing with difficult emotions. It can even lead to stronger relationships with you and others. 

So how can you help your baby understand their feelings? Start by communicating your emotions frequently, using very simple words and expressions. Read books that focus on emotions and point out how different characters feel in the stories. This will help your baby develop a strong foundation for emotional health and well-being.

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young children sharing a toy


4. Reward Sharing Behavior

You can help your baby's development by encouraging their natural sharer instincts. When your baby begins to show signs of sharing, such as giving you a toy or bringing a blanket to another baby, be sure to praise them and give them lots of cuddles. This positive reinforcement will help your baby understand that sharing is good. Not only will this encourage their social and emotional development, but it will also create a bond between you and your baby that will last a lifetime.

5. Set a Good Example

As a parent, you're a role model for your child. So be sure to set a good example by sharing yourself! Create an educational opportunity for your little one, for instance, when a friend requests a piece of your meal. When this happens, tell your baby that you're sharing your food with your friend. Let your generosity show. 

Related Link: Baby Personality Types and Temperaments 101

6. Make Sharing Fun! 

One of the best ways to get your child to want to share is by making it into a game. 

It's never too early to start encouraging your baby to take turns. By teaching your baby to take turns, you'll help them learn important social skills that will benefit them throughout their life. Here are a few simple tips for encouraging turn-taking from an early age:

Play peek-a-boo: Peek-a-boo is a classic game that's perfect for teaching your baby about turn-taking. Every time your baby covers their eyes, it's their turn to wait for a surprise. When you uncover your own eyes and say "peek-a-boo," your baby will know it's their turn to cover their own eyes.

7. Be Patient and Understanding

Babies learn at their own pace, so don't get discouraged if it takes a while for them to catch on. It's important to remain patient and understanding throughout the process. They'll get there eventually! 


Toddlers sitting together


8. Avoid Forcing Your Baby to Share

It’s so cute when they want to share their toys with their friends, but sometimes you just have to say no. If your baby is holding on to a toy and another baby wants it, don’t force them to share. It’s okay for babies to be possessive of their toys and to want to keep them to themselves. Sharing is a skill that they will learn in time, but for now, it’s perfectly normal for them to be a little selfish. So if your baby doesn’t want to share, don’t worry – they’ll get there in their own time.

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Babies and Sharing

Babies are born with a natural instinct to grasp and hold onto things. This is known as the palmar grasp reflex, and it helps babies to grip and hold onto their mother's hair, fur, or clothing. While this reflex fades around 4-6 months old, it can sometimes be seen when a baby tries to grab a toy or object. 

The desire to hold onto things is strong in a baby because it is the baby's way of ensuring that they get what they need. After all, if the baby lets go of the toy, someone else might grab it! Learning to share can be difficult for a baby because it goes against the baby's natural instinct to hold onto things. However, your baby can learn to share their toys with others with patience and practice.

Related Link: Newborn Cues: A Guide to Communicating with Your Baby 

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