This TikTok Trick Taught My Four-Year-Old to Share with His Friends

Sharing is hard at any age. This trick has been a game changer for my preschooler!

By: Amanda Mushro
A multi-ethnic group of preschool students sits together on the floor in their classroom. The classmates are happily playing together. The focus is on two little boys who are laughing while building with toy blocks. Other children are playing in the background.

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A multi-ethnic group of preschool students sits together on the floor in their classroom. The classmates are happily playing together. The focus is on two little boys who are laughing while building with toy blocks. Other children are playing in the background.

Photo by: FatCamera

FatCamera

A few weeks ago my son came home from preschool and announced “Mommy, I need to share with my friends.” It was clear this was a phrase that had been said to him at school that day, and in his four year old mind, he was trying to make sense of it all. After talking to him about it more and chatting with his teachers, it became clear we had a sharing problem. Honestly, I’m taking most of the blame on this one.

Since Dylan is the youngest of the family, to make my life easier, I often just tell my son and daughter (who are 10 and 8 years older than their brother) “just give him what he wants.” From toys to snacks, just handing over what my youngest wants has stopped many tantrums, but has also created a preschooler who has little practice in sharing. Not great, I know. So, it was time to get to work.

With my older two kids, I was constantly on them to share with each other and to share with friends — but I’ve slipped with Dylan and it shows. It’s on me to help fix the problem and show Dylan that sharing is caring. But how do I do that? Thanks to TikTok, I’ve got some help.

One day when I was scrolling on the app and a video came across my FYP that instantly grabbed my attention. Audra Rutnik, a pediatric occupational therapist, started the video by saying, "Do you want to learn a five second trick that will help your child learn how to share?"

Here’s what Rutnik says:

While playing with a child, she will quickly grab a toy the child is playing with and says "Audra’s turn." Then she counts loudly and quickly "One, two, three, four, five." Then she gives the toy back to the child.

She says the key is to keep it silly, fun, and very short. This way kids will see that sharing means you can offer up something to a friend, like a toy, but you’ll also have your turn again. So, just when they are about to get upset about the toy, they will already have it back in their hands.

Rutnick says her sharing practice does two things:

  1. It interrupts a child’s stress response so they are more likely to cooperate and buy into the sharing
  2. Her activity reframes what it means to share. Because kids often think sharing means giving away something they really like or enjoy and they will never get it back. Sharing (especially when you are young) is really hard for kids.

When she tries this activity again, she slows down the counting. Eventually, she will say "Audra’s turn" and the kids willingly hand over the toy so she has a turn with the toy.

Rutnick offers this advice in the caption of the video, "Start slow and continue to increase the time before you give it back to them. Work at their 'just right challenge.' Increasing the time while not so much that it gets them upset. They will gradually tolerate longer and longer periods of time."

Watch her video HERE.

So, I gave it a try with Dylan. At first he was confused, but with practice and lots and lots of praise, he was quickly handing over his toys. Yes, it really worked that fast! The sillier the voices I used, the more willing he was to share. Clearly silly sharing is way better than serious sharing.

We’ve also been reading books about sharing, talked a lot about why and how we share, and practiced sharing at home with his siblings and with friends. I’m happy to report (and so are his teachers) that Dylan is improving his sharing skills. While sharing is hard for preschoolers, with a little encouragement and a lot of practice, it does get easier.

If your little one is struggling with sharing, try this activity and let us know how it works for you!

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