Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sharing - Don't Drive My Corvette

A mother and I discussed sharing this morning. She said that she told her son to share his toy and after he handed it over to the other child, he cried uncontrollably. 

I said, if you had a brand new Corvette and someone told you that you had to "share" it with the person next to you, how would you feel? "Hell no!" comes to mind. And if someone took off in it? Yeah, you'd cry uncontrollably as well.


A toy in a child's hand is his brand new Corvette. He worked hard to get it, is working hard to keep it, and loves it at that moment. He shouldn't have to share it. That toy in the corner? Well, that's more like an old garden tool in the back of his shed. Yeah, it's his, but he really doesn't care, and if he does, then he shouldn't and he should be willing to share it. But that one in his hand? Yeah, that's his Corvette. We don't share our Corvette.

We often have expectations of children sometimes 
that WE can't meet on a good day.

Milton from Office Space LOVES his stapler. No sharing.

I use these definitions of "share" for this discussion from thefreedictionary.com:

2. To allow someone to use or enjoy something that one possesses: Being in daycare taught the child to share. 

(laughing that THIS was the example)

3. To use or enjoy something jointly or in turns: There is only one computer, so we will have to share.


Do we ever really SHARE? Really? In the altruistic sense of the word? I don't think so. We negotiate. We give in order to get: friendship, acceptance, reciprocated giving, a future gain, a feeling of righteousness, etc. Older children and adults see the VALUE in sharing, the benefit to this choice of behavior. 

Young children see it only as something they ought to do, are expected to do, or made to do. This leads to frustration and anger. Tantrums. We wonder why.

?

No human behavior is performed without some concept of benefit. Yet we have this expectation in young children. Sharing will naturally occur as children mature and gain the understanding of the benefits of sharing with others. As in, "There is only one computer, so we will have to share," which is for mutual benefit. If I don't share, I may not get to use it at all.

My belief is that forcing "sharing" is unnecessary. I'm sure many of you reading this are aghast. However, no child should have to give up a toy they have in their possession through legitimate gain, i.e. not taking from another child or inappropriate source. 

"...we think we’re teaching our kids to share, or at least to take turns, but when we force our child to give a coveted object to another child – or worse yet, wrest it from his grasp – we’re teaching our child that he really isn’t safe in this situation, because someone may grab his toy away at any time – even his usually trustworthy mommy! He may well adopt this aggressive behavior towards others, but at the very least he will find it more difficult to feel generous about sharing." - Aha Parenting

My belief is that forcing "sharing" is unnecessary. I'm sure many of you reading this are aghast. However, no child should have to give up a toy they have in their possession through legitimate gain, i.e. not taking from another child or inappropriate source. 

However, RULES, which children have little issue with if applied consistently and fairly, should dictate appropriate turn-taking time lines (timer set if another child wants a turn), and rules of behavior, such as if you put it down or leave the area, then another child may utilize the toy or space and the first child must wait his/her turn. 


I purposefully place my preschoolers into situations with limited resources or role play scenarios that facilitate  sharing and sharing lessons in a supervised setting. This enables me to point out the benefits of such behavior and give the children realistic time frames they can understand, such as, "Let me push A three more times and then you can have your turn." Note that I don't say, "A turn," I said, "YOUR turn," as in, it is a right. Such a simple context change, but it makes it much more personal and valid to the child.

Children are caring and social. What we usually term "sharing" is often normal social interaction of companion play. A child asks for a turn, another child gives it and vice versa. It doesn't have to be forced. If a child must be FORCED to share, then the boundaries are crossed, the child has a far greater emotional stake in the object or activity, and SHOULD NOT HAVE TO SHARE.

Your thoughts?
Tags: child, development, sharing, preschool, toddler, daycare, care, emotion, tantrum, parenting, discipline

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