Two young girls sitting on a couch, and one of the young girls is holding a play vegetable and extending her arm towards the other girl. This implies she is learning to share.

Learning to Share: How to Teach a Child to Share

Sharing is a fundamental social skill most children typically acquire as they grow and interact with others. It’s an important aspect of building positive relationships and navigating social situations. For children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), learning to share can present unique challenges. In this blog, we’ll explore strategies to help children, including those on the autism spectrum, develop the skill of sharing.

When Do Kids Learn to Share?

Though sharing is a developmental milestone, determining when a child learns this skill will vary from child to child. Typically, most developing children begin to show signs of understanding sharing between the ages of two and three, though they may not fully understand the concept of sharing. Still, they can demonstrate sharing behaviors, such as giving a toy to a peer or taking turns in a game.

Teaching Children to Share

For children with ASD or those who struggle with sharing, explicit teaching and guidance can make a significant difference. It’s best to start with structured sharing opportunities and then move forward with the act of teaching kids to share.

Create Structured Sharing Opportunities

Establish structured playdates or activities that encourage sharing. Provide a variety of toys and activities that require turn-taking and sharing. Supervise these interactions closely and provide positive reinforcement when the child engages in sharing behaviors.

How to Teach Kids to Share

Though there are many different ways that children can be taught to share, some of the best ways to teach sharing to children on the autism spectrum are model sharing, using visual supports, and practicing turn-taking. A short description of each is below.

Model Sharing

Children learn by observing. Demonstrate sharing behaviors by sharing with them and with others. Use phrases like, “Can I have a turn, please?” or “Would you like to play with this together?”

Use Visual Supports

Visual schedules and social stories can help children with ASD understand sharing expectations. Create visual cues that illustrate sharing behaviors and consequences.

Practice Turn-Taking

Engage in activities that naturally involve taking turns, such as board games, puzzles, or building with blocks. Use a timer to indicate when it’s time to switch turns.

How Do I Teach My Autistic Child to Share?

Teaching sharing to an autistic child may require additional patience and individualized strategies.

Consider these tips:

  • Gradual exposure: Start with low-pressure sharing situations and gradually progress to more complex ones. Begin with sharing activities the child enjoys.
  • Positive reinforcement: Use positive reinforcement, such as praise, small rewards, or tokens, to encourage sharing. Praise the child when they share voluntarily.
  • Social stories: Create social stories that depict sharing scenarios and the positive outcomes of sharing. Read these stories together to reinforce the concept.

Do Autistic Children Have a Hard Time Sharing?

Children with autism spectrum disorder may face challenges related to social communication and understanding social cues. They might initially struggle with sharing due to difficulties in perspective-taking and interpreting the needs of others. However, with appropriate support and intervention, many autistic children can learn to share effectively.

Learning to Share: A Valuable Social Skill

Learning to share is a crucial social skill that helps children build relationships, cooperate, and engage positively with peers. For children with ASD, acquiring this skill and other essential skills like learning skills, communication skills, safety skills, and other skills might require more structured teaching methods and patience, but it’s an achievable goal. By creating a supportive environment and using effective strategies, parents and educators can empower children, including those on the autism spectrum, to become proficient sharers.

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Related Readings:

Blue Parachute – Who We Help

Teaching Your Child to Learn by Imitation

Teach Your Child to Wait: How to Learn Patience


Autism Speaks – Autism and Social Skills Development

Verywell Health – The Importance of Social Skills Therapy for Autism