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April 8, 2016


How often do you tell your children they should share with one another? Quite often, perhaps? Learning to share is a vital life skill and quite a tough one to acquire, given that children at a young age (especially between the ages 2-7) are egocentric. So, what can parents do to help their children master this important life skill? Well, first, we should ask ourselves, ‘How do children learn to share?’

In trying to answer this question, Albert Bandura’s work is very helpful. His social learning theory directed the attention to the importance of modelling in children’s learning. In simple terms, children observe in detail the individuals (called ‘models’) around them. These models (i.e. parents, friends) provide examples of behaviour for children to observe, encode and at a later stage imitate/copy. As parents, being one of the most influential models, your nurturing behaviour (i.e. expressing confidence in your child’s abilities, responding to your child’s request for attention) and actions can greatly encourage sharing behaviour which can then be adopted by your children.


Second, literature can help children learn about sharing. Literature takes sharing, an essentially abstract concept and places it inside specific settings, providing lots of opportunities for role-playing and making it more ‘personal’. There are great books out there, many of which are all-time-classic worth reading with your child.

Third, most recently, it has been shown that giving choice to children increases sharing behaviour. Put simply: Don’t force them! When given a choice children’s sharing behaviour increases in the future. Many parents’ first action is to entice their children with a reward or instruct/order them to share, but this may not be a good idea after all. This is because unconsciously, children assume that sharing must not be something it should be done willingly and so they come to perceive themselves as ‘not natural sharers’. On the other hand, allowing children to freely choose whether to give their precious possessions to another or not leads them to see themselves as ‘natural sharers’.

Ask your child what he/she thinks it means to share. Was that an/the answer you expected? What do you do to help your child learn to share?



BANDURA, A., 1977. Social Learning Theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

CHERNYAK, N. & KUSHNIR, T., 2013. Giving preschoolers choice increases sharing behaviour. Psychological Science, XX (X), pp. 1-9.

HOFFMAN, S. & WUNDRAM, B., 1984. Views from 3-year-olds and thoughts for teachers: Sharing is… Childhood Education, 60 (4), pp. 261-265.

LOWELL KROGH, S. & LEONARD LAMME, L., 1983. Learning to share: How literature can help. Childhood Education, 59 (3), pp. 188-192.


Category: articles



About the author



Eva Sakellaridi is an education consultant and a researcher at the University College London (UCL), Institute of Education (IoE). She has a BA in English Language and Literature (2006), a Diploma in TESOL (2010) and a Certificate in Educational Psychology (2011). She also holds a MA in Education with Distinction from the University of Bath (2014). Among Eva’s main broad fields of interest are character education, educational psychology, school leadership and school improvement. Prior to becoming an education consultant, Eva worked in a range of public and private, preschool, primary and secondary educational organisations, universities and charities in a variety of capacities including classroom teacher, remedial teacher, student mentor, education programme manager and deputy school manager. Throughout her teaching career, she has observed that most children acquire academic skills more effortlessly and quicker compared to lifelong skills and has witnessed many and various cases of parental anxiety and concern about children’s character development and learning. As a result, Eva has always used scientific research to explore and personalise old and new pedagogical methods to empower both children and their parents.

Penelope’s Loom


Welcome to “Penelope’s Loom”! This is the name of our collection of educational articles that includes only research-based information on education, educational psychology and parenting, taken from sources such as scientific publications, reviews of research and government reports. Our aim is to offer our readers objective, authentic, scholarly information in a clear and simple way. If you would like to learn more about any of the themes tackled in our articles, feel free to contact us at and we will send you an e-copy of the references and/or further readings.


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