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Kids Who Won't Share

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

Q: My children refuse to share! What can I do?

A: Sharing is tough for some kids (and adults). No one should be forced to share if they don't want to. Yes, read that again. No one should be forced to share if they don't want to. It can be very emotional for someone to have to give something special away to another person.

Young children might not know how to express themselves, so they use the word "mine" to express feelings like: "I'm playing/using this right now," "This is special to me, and I'm afraid you might break it," "I'm afraid you might take it all and leave none for me."

The best way to handle a lack of sharing is to model respect and patience. Practice communication that expresses everyone's feelings to understand why the person won't share with you or someone else. Setting a timer can also be helpful. Decide to have the kids take short turns or decide that they will take a longer turn (over 24 hours), but you must communicate that clearly.

Some toys are very special to kids, and they should be allowed to have them for themselves. It's okay to have a few items you don't want to share; just make sure you are communicating why you feel this way.

When a child doesn't wish to share something, have them tell the person why they don't want to share. For example, it might be something special or sentimental. Next, they should offer a similar object or item they are comfortable sharing instead.


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