We have been trying to teach Jah the concept of sharing for the longest time and I’m sure this is one lesson which a lot of parents struggle with. Convincing their kids to share with their siblings, with their classmates, with that little kid in the playground or even to share the toy at the toy store that doesn’t even belong to him.
This lesson becomes especially hard when the sharing rule differs with different sets of people and also teaching the fact that people are entitled to say no if they do not wish to share their belongings. I know how our parents used to just preach that we HAVE TO share regardless of who the toy belonged to, who had it first, how unreasonable the other child is being. No if someone else wants the toy then the ‘right’ thing to do is for us to share, to relinquish, to give it up to that other child and to move on.
In our household, we (Joel and I) are learning not to subscribe to the same age old teaching on sharing that we grew up with. It is tough!
Sharing with your sibling
Sharing with your sibling is almost mandatory in our household (in a perfect scenario :p). The only exception to the rule is if one sibling is playing with a ‘borrowed’ toy and the other sibling (owner) wants it back then it has to be returned. The owner of the toy is also allowed to suggest alternatives if he/she is playing with a particular toy that the other sibling wants. We have to accept that some toys are not ideal for shared usage and they just have to learn to take turns and respect ownership.
Sharing your toys with other children
When playing in a public domain with their own toys, we teach the kids that they are allowed to say no if someone approaches them for the toys. It gets alittle tough when innocent little ones just walk over and pick up a toy (its natural!) and sometimes I have no choice but to intervene. I usually ask Jah if he is ok to share and play together with the child. If it’s a no then that’s ok and I will gently ask for the toy back from the child. I feel bad about this and I hate to be the one to ‘break the bad news’ (always hoping that their parent would step in instead) Although that doesn’t always happen and some parents may also give you the dirty look. However this is one lesson and message that I need to remain consistent with because while I don’t force them to share their toys, I also teach them that they have to accept it when someone says no to their sharing request. Jah still finds it very hard to understand. We are teaching him to ask if he has a ‘sharing request’ but we are also trying to teach him that not all requests end with a yes. At times, he tries to barter trade or negotiate eg. I’ll share my toy with you and you share yours with me. (I’m quite glad that he has this skill) but yes he needs to learn that you don’t win every negotiation :p
So yes while I would hope that my kids are willing to share their toys with each other and their friends and even strangers all the time, I don’t expect it and would never force them to. While they may not be able to rationalize or reason as well as most adults :p I believe their unwillingness to share is no different from ours. It stems from a sense of ownership and I think I can respect that. 🙂