“…for  God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7)

Mom watching kids argue

Teaching children to share is one of the big challenges of parenting. Sharing does not come naturally to the old sin nature. We shouldn’t be dismayed, disappointed, or angry when we hear the words, “No, mine,” coming from the mouths of our little ones. Our children are just proving that they inherited their parents’ sinful natures!

Children need to be gently instructed and trained. They are born self-centered; they learn to be others-centered. God has given us, with the help of the Holy Spirit, the job of teaching our children to be selfless instead of selfish, and the everyday tussles that arise between children are God-ordained teaching opportunities, not annoyances and interruptions, as we are often tempted to think.

It takes an investment of time, thought, and energy to teach a child to willingly share with a cheerful heart. Most of all, it takes a real, live, loving example in front of them. Are we willing to share with our children? Do we cheerfully give of ourselves, or do our hearts say, “Mine!” when our little ones want or need our time and attention? Do we communicate a begrudging, selfish attitude when we have to stop again to teach our children to not have begrudging, selfish attitudes?

In the midst of all the other demands on one’s time and energy, it’s tempting, when children start to argue over an object, to just do whatever it takes to restore peace and get back to what we were doing. We may:

  • Try to distract them with another object.
  • Become annoyed and simply take away the object of dispute.
  • Threaten or bribe, manipulating one child into surrendering the object to the other.
  • Produce a duplicate object in order to satisfy both children.
  • Make a hasty judgment in favor of one child without taking time to understand all the circumstances.
  • Give in to the loudest or most aggressive child.

These actions don’t address the actual problem. Instead of seeking the easiest road to peace, we should take hold of the opportunities to teach our children. This means stopping what we are doing and taking the time to instruct and discipline them. These are opportunities to point our children to God and His Word, and occasions for laying down our lives for the sake of our children.

In the next few Tuesday posts, we will explore different elements of teaching our children to share!


« « Previous post| Next post » »


  1. So, may I have your car keys so I can share your car? May I share your jewelery perhaps? It’s MY turn to play with your fancy computer! Lets swap houses for awhile! Can I have your TV for awhile? God! Make Pam share her things!

    I’m sorry, I don’t mean to make fun, but, while God did say we should give a shirt to the man who has none, and other such things, that was charity, entirely different from the concept of children sharing. Sharing is more closely tied to coveting, and a very socialist point of view. You wouldn’t let the new guy at church take your car for a spin, he might crash and ruin it, so why should your children be forced to let that mans son play with their new scooter, or whatever the item may be. I was often forced to share, and it resulted in other children breaking my things, sometimes very special things. I still remember a favourite tub of hair sparkle gel being completely used up from 3/4 full when my mum made me let my sister and her friends use some. You can teach your children to care for other peoples things, but will other people teach their children the same? usually not in my experience.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I think it’s good for brothers and sisters to play together and to offer their toys to one another, in kindness. Same goes for the childrens friends and they should learn that it’s kind to give and allow others to borrow. It’s a part of learning hospitality. Also, there are certain communal items that must be shared, a family toy can be compared to adults sharing a library. But I am very against the idea of sharing without limits, and having all childrens posessions open to any other child, as people seem to expect it to be. I remember disapointment when I got a new game for my birthday, and it did take me a few days to get to playing it, but when I did go to play it I discovered my brother had played and finished it first, and that was supposed to be ok, because I was supposed to be sharing. I suddenly had no interest in the game.

  2. Emily, as Christians, we are to have the attitude that all of our gifts are from God, and the material possessions we have are temporal. Although I agree that stewardship is important and scriptural, caring more about people and less about stuff is rewarding beyond the joy one might receive from hoarding possessions. Scripture continually teaches that it is more important that we care about other people than ourselves. Personally, I think it would bring a great blessing to be more “free” with giving what we’ve been blessed with (whether it’s a car, house, or jewelry), than with maintaining our right to keep w/o sharing.

  3. Our 6 children have “special toys” that are put away when other children come over…and they are not required to share even with siblings.

    But there are so many other sharing issues! I’m looking forward to these posts!

  4. Emily, ownership is one of the concepts I plan to discuss in the next few posts. Sharing does not mean children are given permission to demand or help themselves to anything they want, completely ignoring another person’s ownership of something. Sharing does not mean everything belongs to everyone.

    Sharing does, however, mean a gratitude for all that God has blessed us with, and a cheerful willingness to bless others with what He has given us. As Acts 20:35 states, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

    I hope the posts that follow will be helpful! 🙂

  5. Great article. Challenging.
    I respectfully comment to Emily as well.

    When I think of ‘my’ things in the context of sharing my adult things or kids things – I have to know they aren’t really mine and I need to teach my kids this as well. So, if someone did need to borrow my car – I really HOPE to have the attitude that it’s not mine anyway. If it comes back broken, I need to care more about the person and less about the car – knowing that God provided the car for me in the first place. Am I always good at that? No. The Holy Spirit can be this IN me, if I am allowing Him (Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self Control).

    God filters things through our hands – but it is never about THINGS it should always be about PEOPLE. I just had a conversation with my kids this morning (a convicting one at that) about other people in other places who don’t have whatever they want for breakfast or even a house to live in. We had one who was really upset we didn’t have his favorite oatmeal. When we started discussing it, I asked them if we deserve to have a house more than them? And the short answer is no. We are all people, made in the image of God.

    I pray I can instill in my children a Christ like attitude that cares about others more than things. It’s not easy in this world, but scripture backs this up time and time again.

    God Bless! I pray I would share my things with you any day – no matter the consequence. My reward is in heaven, not here on earth.

  6. I’m looking forward to this series. I have 3 girls, 7, 4 and 2. We obviously have had issues with sharing but my biggest problem comes when other kids come over. In particular I watch a 4 year old boy. He rough and rambocktious. In short he is a boy! But my 7 year old and he fight all the time about toys. One day after he left and she was in tears we talked about it. She said he breaks her toys or loses them and she can’t find them when she wants to play with them. So I told her she could put a some of the toys that were most important to her away when he comes over and that way she didn’t have to worry about them. Well, she began hourding toys. Literally, I found 27 toys that she hid before he came over! I don’t know what to do. It seems like She ends up in time out or crying every time he’s over. I’ve tried talking to him about respecting her things but so far I haven’t noticed a change. I want her to feel like her feelings are important but I also want her to have a giving heart.

  7. I look forward to this series. Actually, I look forward to everything you share. The ministry God has given you is such a help to me and so convicting! Not sure I like that part 😉 ok, i do, I do. Thank you.