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Teaching Sharing

FOX 35 News Orlando 

Teaching sharing can be difficult. Children beyond the first are born into a competive world. Our second child’s third word was “Mine”.

Second children are born into a home where all the toys belong to their older sibling. When your second child crawls and finds a toy, first children typically want that toy.

In the first few months, the technique that has served us the best “trading”. This technique only works for about 6 months (from 9 months to 15 months)Trading is teaching the older child to exchange a toy for the desired toy. By giving their younger sibling a new toy allows the older sibling to obtain the desired toy without conflict (usually). This is by no means a long term solution, but it is a good introduction to sharing for many older siblings. Trading does not usually work with older children, eventually the little brother won’t trade.

As our children age we begin to use “counting” to teach sharing. When two of our younger children want to play with the same toy we use counting to take turns. While one child plays with the toy the other counts. (Usually to ten with parent for the toddler and to twenty for 3 and up). My wife introduced this technique to our family and it really works.

When starting this technique often the younger child cries when you take the toy away, but they quickly learn the concept. Our older children typically “give in” as after 2 to 3 turns they “don’t want to count again”. It is always amazing to me that my 3 year olds are happy to beat their brother with a stick, but the toy is not worth counting.

As a side effect, our children are often the best counters in pre-school.



Written June 2011 by
Dr. Gordon, Orlando Pediatrician






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