Sharing is a fundamental and integral skill to instill in children. It teaches them to value others more than material objects. It helps them to connect with people, and it makes it easier for them to get along. Teaching children the value of taking turns will also teach them the importance of compromise, fairness, and self-control. The ideal time to encourage sharing and taking turns is as soon as possible. It’s especially beneficial for preschool-age children who will be interacting with other kids for the first time.

Begin at Home

Begin teaching your child about sharing and taking turns while at home and with family. If these are concepts that they are already aware of, they will be more likely to remember when out in public. If your child is throwing a tantrum because a stranger wants a turn on the swings, it’s not the opportune time to start a lesson. He or she is unlikely to be receptive. Prepare them ahead of time.

Make the Message Fun

Talking about sharing is important, but too much talk can start to seem like a lecture — and what preschooler wants to be lectured? The trick here is to find movies, books, songs, and TV shows that deal with these issues. That makes the concepts fun. It also makes the concepts more likely to stick in the child’s head — they can relate to the characters and situations concretely.

Emphasize the Positive

Sharing, in particular, can seem negative to a child. They’re losing access to — or part of — something they like. It often means parting with a beloved toy that another preschooler wants to play with, for example. Instead of focusing on losing something, emphasize the gains. Point out that sharing doesn’t have to mean losing. You can share feelings, a hug, and even time together.

Allow and Respect Boundaries

Not everything has to be shared. If your child is particularly attached to an item, respect that. Some things, like stuffed animals and blankets, may give children a sense of security. If that’s the case, forced sharing makes a child feel unsafe. It also teaches him or her that they can’t set their boundaries.