A long time ago I read a post about sharing that completely changed how I parent. I was in awe because I couldn’t believe I had ever thought any other way. My first instinct with my oldest son was to tell him to share. If he had something and other kids were around, I would say share. It was what I thought was the right thing to teach him. But I was so wrong!
I took a step back and looked at the topic from an adults perspective. If I walked up to another adult and simply stuck my hand out and whined for them to give me their phone, do you know what they would do? They’d probably call the cops! Or at the very least give me an ugly look and walk away. And that look would be totally justified, no sane adult expects to have to hand over their items simply because another adult wants them. That’s ridiculous!
But for some reason we expect this of our children. We tell them to share their toys, share their food, share their feelings. We tell them to do this with siblings, friends and the worst, with other children they don’t even know! It’s an absurd request and I don’t know why it took me so long to see that.
If my child is playing with a toy, they have every right to play with it until they are done. At that point, they can choose to let someone else have a turn, but never sooner. Why would I take a toy away from my son who is playing happily just to give it away to another child who wants it? I want lots of things! A million dollars would be nice, but you don’t see me walking up to the nearest bank and hoping they will share the wealth with me because I asked them to.
I refuse to teach my children to abandon their happiness to improve someone else’s. If they make the decision to share what they have then so be it, but I will not make it mandatory. It will always be their decision and if they do not want to distribute their graham crackers to every tiny moocher at the playground then they do not have to!
It’s a terrible thing to teach your kids to share when it means taking something away from them to appease another person. We always teach our kids that they can play with their toy as long as they want to but when they are done, or if they leave it and walk away, then it is up for grabs. They don’t get to hog toys they aren’t playing with but they also don’t have to give up the ones they are playing with. When they’re done someone else gets to play with it, but never sooner (unless they feel like being super kind toddlers and choose to hand it over calmly, which is very unlikely…have you met a toddler?)
I once had an 11-year-old come up to me and tell me that my 3-year-old was not sharing the crayons. I wanted to scream and drop kick her mother into Timbuktu for allowing this type of whiny, tattle tale behavior! Seriously!? He’s 3! Of course he doesn’t want to share, and technically he shouldn’t have to! He had them first! Plus! You’re 11! Why don’t you go pick a fight with someone your own size!
The point I’m trying to make is that sometimes telling our kids to share is not always teaching them the right lesson. I want my kids to grow up knowing they do not have to give their hard-earned things to every person who walks their way.
I know my kids are generous and kind, they would help anyone and many times they have chosen to share on their own without mommy telling them they had to. That’s what I want. I want them to make the decision to be kind based off their own feeling, not because it was drilled into their heads that everything had to be equal and they had to share everything they had.
If they don’t want to share what they’re playing with then by golly, they don’t have to. That’s life kids! Get used to it! Adults do not do kindly to complete strangers requesting half of their sandwich and asking them to hand over their things. Kids should not be held to any lesser standards simply because they are kids.