Many of us grew up with hearing the phrase ‘sharing is caring’ and we can often recall being forced to share our toys or our space with others when we were younger. It was thought that when we tell our children to share, we are teaching them to be compassionate and caring towards others. It was also looked upon as good manners when a child shared his or her belongings to appease another child.
However, we are now beginning to realize that forcing a child to share is very different from encouraging a child to share because sharing should be a genuine act which the child is willingly and wholeheartedly ready to do. True generosity comes from the inside and sometimes it is absolutely okay not to share.
Forced sharing causes resentment
Your child is busy playing with her toy when another child comes by and demands to play with it that same instant. You tell your child, “It’s nice to share and you’ve been playing with it for some time. Give the toy to the other child.” This type of sharing expects children to give up something the instant someone else demands it and she is forced to give up something she was enjoying; her play gets interrupted and she also learns that sharing makes her feel bad. In reality, it is really the parents who are sharing and not the child.
Teach your child to be assertive
Instead of forcing your child and saying “5 more minutes and then you have to pass on the toy,” let your children be the ones to decide if and when they will be able to share. Instead, teach your child to say, “You can have it when I’m done; I’m still playing with it; I’m not ready to give it to you yet.” This teaches your child positive assertiveness; it helps kids stand up for themselves and how to set boundaries with others which is great skill to learn while growing up.
Children should be able to play freely, feel fulfilled by their experience, and then be able to give the toy over when they are finished. This method encourages self-regulation, self-discipline and the ability to know when one is feeling satisfied. Children enjoy making other children happy, and when they are able to do it on their own time genuinely and not when they are forced, they learn how to be kind and giving.
We can encourage fair treatment and satisfaction by allowing children to make their own sharing choices and by teaching them to take turns. This could be a great for those who are learning to wait for their turn and for those who are going to give others a turn as well.
Teaching your child how to ask for a turn, how to wait, and how to take turns is a learning experience. When children are not forced to share, the end result is a child who learns patience and empathy and one who will be able to handle more emotionally complex situations as they grow older.