To share or not to share…

Are you sharing? To share or not to share…

My friend has a young son who is one and a half years old. She came to me very concerned because her sweet boy won’t share his toys at home. He also does not want to share other stuff in public places.

Let’s think about this from the child’s perspective. You are in the store very engaged, looking and smelling this nice beautiful candle. Would you be ok if a stranger came over and grabbed that candle from your hands? Or suddenly your husband just came and took the candle from you and gave it to the stranger and said, “Share!”. What would be the right thing to do for an adult in this case? An adult should wait their turn right? you saw the candle first, you got engaged with it, you wanted to see it, try it, and look at it. it is your turn. Other people can wait, or ask for permission to see the candle.

It would be nice if children understood this concept already. But just like everything else, we need to take time and teach. Children at a young age are egocentric and still practicing self-control and patience. I am not saying children can just do whatever they want. No. But sharing and asking to share is a good opportunity to practice social skills. Teach your children to ask politely for something they want, to wait and be patient, and yes sometimes to deal with disappointment when others don't share (hopefully not).

I suggest setting the tone and expectation before going to the library, other people houses, a party, or a public place that requires sharing. Talk to your children about taking turns and asking if they can have a turn. Tell them “Don't grab stuff from other people hands. Use words.” Start a conversation and talk about how would your child feel if they really want something and others are not sharing with them?  

Also, it is OK not to share. If your child is very engaged with the trains at the library and does not want to share for a while that is ok too. Give him/her the opportunity to concentrate and enjoy what he/she is doing (playing with new and different toys is very exciting). After a while, you can help by letting your child know that there are other people waiting a turn.

And if you get where you are going and another child is already playing with the toys that is also a good opportunity to practice patience and respect. Practice asking politely to other children when it is appropriate. Or maybe do something else while you wait? Come back later?

It doesn't matter the age of your child. When he/she is very young you can help by going with him and asking. Model how to say “no” to other children. When your child is a little older, these are great opportunities to let them practice social skills.

Do what is right to you and seems appropriate in the moment. Don't worry about what other people think about you or your child (Remember you are the parent. You are there for your child to teach him/her. Your goal is not to please other adults), Just be clear with others in public places and teach our children to be a good members of society.