We have all either done or seen this situation:
Child one is playing with a toy. Child two wants to play with said toy. Child one does not want to give child two the toy.
This is usually when an adult will step in and say to child one in a lighthearted tone, “Please share. Go ahead; give your friend a turn.”
Sharing is important—critical even—in developing a sense of charity and hospitality. But by advising children to give away something anytime another requests it, despite their not wanting to, we are instead encouraging a lack of self-worth. We are presenting the idea that others’ needs are more important than our own; that we must always succumb to the demands of others.
As crucial as are lessons about sharing is teaching children to honor themselves.
Here are some ways to teach a child to respond in the event that he or she is not yet ready to give up a toy:
I am not yet ready to stop playing with this toy.
I would love to share this with you when I feel I am done.
Maybe you could play with that toy until this one is available.
Let’s be honest, this may need some prompting in the beginning, with the adult mediating the conversation. But like anything, situational actions can be learned.
This method of sharing will, in turn, increase tendencies of generosity by prompting children to think of others (i.e., “I am aware that Jimmy wants to play with this toy. I will soon give it to him”) versus the typical reaction which can breed resentment (i.e., “Why does Jimmy get my toy? I am mad at him”). It also gives children the opportunity to practice making assessments and decisions on their own accord…another essential ability.
I believe that this should simply be called sharing, but, unfortunately, many do not promote sharing in this context. So, until that is the case, let’s coin this conscious sharing and teach children to respect themselves as well as others.
Author: Jenna Meyer
Apprentice Editor: Lois Person / Editor: Travis May