Stage 1: This stage can be summed up with the word MINE, as children travel from infancy to toddlerhood. Toddlers are very egocentric at the age of two, and will do anything to grab the toy they desire. They will use any form of force, from biting, hitting or pushing necessary to obtain it. They don't understand how to share and that using force will hurt others physically, as well as emotionally. They also see their possessions as an extension of themselves. So therefore the thought of anybody touching them is a "no go zone".
Stage 2: During this stage, children between the ages of two and four are beginning to realise that not all things are theirs and can actually belong to other people. Sometimes this concept can be quite difficult to understand and accept, especially when the object of their desire is big, bright and shiny, with 20 buttons beckoning – push me, push me! During this stage, your child develops their self-esteem and slowly learns to play with other children. As they learn to play co-operatively with their peers, they start to cope a little better with the concept of sharing.
Stage 3: Children at the age of three, have now picked up many skills about sharing, turn taking and getting along with other children. At this age, children have increased their language skills to enable them to comprehend what is required of them, so they are then able to explain their own reactions and learn to cooperate with others.
Stage 4: Children between the ages of four and six years learn they can share their toys with others, as they will get them back when the other child has finished playing with them. But this is the hardest stage and takes the longest for your child to learn. Your child has learnt from experience that sharing benefits both children and makes playing collaboratively a lot more fun. Parents need to have realistic expectations about their child sharing with others, as this alleviates some of the stress involved in non-sharing behaviour.
Children love to copy their parent's behaviour, so it is very important to role model sharing for your child. Practicing the behaviour will reinforce it so they learn. Sharing is a difficult concept for children to grasp so make it a part of your family life. Provide opportunities for sharing at home by playing games that involve following simple rules and taking turns.