The internet has been abuzz this past week after a post about sharing went viral. Or I guess it was about not sharing, if you want to get specific. In case you missed it, here are the take-aways from the article, This Mom Perfectly Explains Why She Does Not Teach Her Kids To Share:
- At the author’s child’s preschool, each child can keep a toy for as long as they want
- Parents will ‘save’ toys for children so no one else takes them
- Outdoor play equipment such as monkey bars and swings will also be ‘saved’
- If a child wants a toy they have to wait until the person who is playing with it is finished
I agree that children should have to wait their turn. As far as ‘saving’ toys and playground equipment – I don’t get it. I also don’t understand the concept of purposely not teaching kids to share.
What are we supposed to do? Cross our fingers, hoping they’ll eventually figure it out on their own? Let them duke it out?
Unlike the article, I strongly believe that we need to TEACH our children to share. Sharing is part of life – they are going to have to share in one way or another for as long as they live. Toddlerhood is the perfect opportunity to lay the groundwork for this very important social skill.
Having a toddler and a nine-month-old, I use this technique daily. Here’s an example of how I approached a sharing issue just this morning:
The baby was playing happily with a small rubber flashlight when my toddler came up and snatched it away.
- Me: Approached both children, stood in between them with one hand on the baby’s back and one hand on my toddler’s back
- Me: To the baby – “Did you like that?”
- Me: To my toddler – “Your brother’s tears are saying he didn’t like that. He was not finished playing with the flashlight. Would you like a turn with it when he’ s done?”
- My toddler: Nods
- Me: To my toddler – “Can you ask your brother for a turn? Can you say, ‘Can I play with the flashlight when you are finished?'”
- My toddler: Nods, but doesn’t say anything
- Me: To the baby – “Your brother is asking for a turn with the flashlight. Can he play with it when you are done?”
- The baby: Says nothing. He is only a baby, after all 😉
- Me: To my toddler – “Your brother says you can have a turn when he is finished! Maybe you could play with the dump truck until he is done?”
- My toddler: Handed the flashlight back to the baby, went over to play with the dump truck.
Yes. It really happened just like that, but it doesn’t always go so smoothly. Here are some common hiccups I’ve encountered:
- Child playing with the toy wants to keep it for himself, has no intention of ever sharing
~ If my toddler has a special toy he doesn’t want to share, I’m ok with it. Special toys go up in his room, that way the baby can’t touch them. If my toddler wants to play with it in the family room he has to be willing to share.
- Child doesn’t want to share and toy isn’t his or is ‘public’ property
~ Sometimes kids want to ‘hog’ toys that aren’t theirs. While I’m okay with putting special toys away out of the ‘sharing’ zones, I’m not okay with kids claiming items that aren’t theirs to claim.
~ In these situations if the kids can’t come to a cooperative agreement I will ‘put them in the same boat’ by setting the toy aside. Once they can agree to cooperate and share then they can try again and I’ll bring the toy back out.
- Child assumes they are entitled to anything if they ask politely
~ This is a big one! I’m trying to teach my kids that everyone has the right to decide for themselves if they want to share toys/food/clothing etc. Although manners are important, just because you ask nicely doesn’t mean you always get what you want.
~ For example: I don’t always share my food when my toddler asks for a bite. Most of the time I’ll give him one bite, but that’s it. Sometimes I don’t allow any bites. I’ve gotten some weird stares when I deny his requests when we’re in public, but that’s okay. I’m trying to teach him that patience and politeness do not equal entitlement. And honestly, if you knew me, you’d know I don’t like sharing my food. With anyone. 😉
- Playdates – Working around different sets of rules
~ Playdates can be a real challenge. Every family has different rules and different ways of dealing with sharing. While I have no ‘magic bullet’ advice, I think we all need to cut each other some slack. We’re all doing the best we can, we all make mistakes and wish we would have handled things differently at one time or another. So let’s not be too hard on each other when disputes erupt in the sandbox. 😉
So there you have it – my biggest sharing issues. What are some sharing issues you’ve been dealing with? Any techniques you’d like to share?
I’d love to hear from you!
Image Credit: Ben Grey