How did trying to teach our children to share become so controversial? What happened to the good ole days when a child could learn how to play with something for a time and then realize that they should share it if someone else wanted a turn? Growing up, if we had our own toys we might not have had to share those, but we were taught to do so occasionally, especially with friends who came over to visit.  But there were also ‘family’ toys where we had to figure out a way to make everyone happy and all take turns. This teaches your child about ownership, sharing and working together for the common good of everyone.  This helps develop skills on how to work with other people.

However,  having said that, I agree with so many things in this article. The main point the author correctly emphasizes’s is this: “I think it does a child a great disservice to teach him that he can have something that someone else has, simply because he wants it.”  Although I do agree, I also think we do need to know that not teaching our children to share will also be a great disservice.

Back in the day (whatever that means) it was just common practice to make your child give up a toy if they saw another child was wanting it.  But what wasn’t common practise was for the parent to insist another child give up that toy for the benefit of their own child. This one fact in the article was what disturbed me the most.

When my children were younger and we were all in a public setting and we saw another child wanting to play with a toy our child was playing with, we as parents tried to teach our child to share in hopes that we would instill in them that it is a nice thing to do.  The parent of the child who was wanting a turn would then come up and say, “no that is OK, my child can wait until your child is finished.”  What was happening was that both parents were trying to teach their kids to think about others before themselves.

So what happened, how did that get all turned around?  This article goes a long way to helping us understand the downfalls of letting children get away with assuming they get what they want when they want it, but I think the major issue is what the parents feel their child’s rights are. What floored me in this article was that the parents were upset because another child didn’t share with their child.  These parents are teaching their children to be ‘entitled’.  We are dealing with the parents thinking their child is better than anyone else’s and has a right to have that toy even though some other child is playing with it and enjoying it.

So I guess the question we have to all ask when we find ourselves in a situation like this is what is it I want to teach my child? Can I teach my child to think of others on occasions, to be kind and share without making them feel like they always have to come in second?  Is there a way to help our children share and still teach the other child (or parent in most cases) that this is a gift to have someone give up what they are using and should not be expected? This is a loaded question that I do believe can be answered, but we have to be determined to watch and take opportunities when they arise to teach both our own children and hopefully society.

I will give you one example and then I would love to hear more examples of ways you think we could accomplish this goal.

Let’s say you take the scenario in the article and a child is playing with a car and another child wants it. What you could do is say to the child (or parent) who wants it, “my child comes here to play with that toy. He always heads right for it, but I am trying to teach him to put other people’s needs in front of his own wants if at all possible.  So in 15 minutes if your child is still wanting that toy, I will make my child give it up for him, but only this once.  If you come next time and my child is playing with it first, I will not make him give it up.”  What you have done is put everything in proper order. You have successfully made the parent see that your child should not have to give it up but is willing to if their child cannot be satisfied in finding something else to play with.  You will also prove if that child really does want the toy by making him wait 15 mins. You have also set the boundaries for the next time so your child can play with the toy without fear of having it taken away which gives them the knowledge that you do feel they are of value and have rights as a person as well.

Let’s get brainstorming and come up with more ways to teach our children that sharing is a good thing, but do so in a way that we are not allowing other parents to enforce their entitlement issues on us.

To read the article I am mentioned click here.