“Give it to your sister! She’s just little!”
“Come on, sharing is caring!”
“Kind children share!”
What is the big deal with sharing?
Why do we actually want our kids to share? Be honest with yourself?
It makes our kids look and seem kind. But did you know that the act of sharing is a huge developmental milestone?
Young children are developmentally ego-centric. They naturally think of themselves more than anything else in the world… not because they choose to. A child who is forced to share doesn’t learn to be kind, but may learn this:
Are kids who don’t share, bad people? Are kids who hate sharing less worthy than those who love sharing?
The messages we send our kids every day creates their sense of self-worth or lack thereof. It gives them an idea of who they are in relation to the world and those around them. If we let them choose who they are and why they do things, we’re actually empowering them to become much more independent thinkers!
Top tip: When encouraging any skill in your children always try to work with them not against them! Meet them where they’re at.
Do you like to share?
What are we actually asking children to do? Are they capable of doing it naturally? Often we ask them to give something away that belongs to them or that they had first.
Universal law… finders keepers ha ha ha
No, but seriously I wouldn’t share my cellphone with others, I wouldn’t share my car or other personal belongings either!
I wouldn’t want to share a pen I’ve just started using that I’m still busy with!
I definitely wouldn’t want to give up my spot at a coffee shop table because someone else wants me to.
And the big one… do you share with your kids? Food, pens, books? How often do we model the message that our things belong to us but their things need to be shared with others?
What can we do?
So now, it’s not to say we leave our children to think they own everything and never have to share! But can we find a way to encourage sharing and make them a part of the equation too? In order to encourage sharing we need one ingredient… internal motivation. How can we encourage a child to want to share? Sound impossible? Don’t worry! There are ways.
Sharing because a child is being forced to is not teaching them long term valuable lessons. It may even create resentment towards other children and a need to protect their things or become sneaky about their toys and other things. Using conscious parenting to help kids to understanding why we share and how we can share, can be such an invaluable lesson for them… and for us, too!
Co-Founder of the CPASA and Owner and Parent Coach at Ripple Effect Parenting