How would you feel if you were forced to share your spouse with someone? What about letting someone else borrow your wedding ring for a day? Anyone want to let a stranger borrow their car, not only hoping they’ll bring in back, but also in the same condition that they took it?
These are questions we as adults may think are silly and most of us would say NO to all of them. Have you ever thought that maybe your child feels the same way about their special toy or blanket as you do about the items/people above?
I feel like children are expected to share everything. I am hoping this article will open your eyes to another way of thinking.
Just recently I heard a podcast about children having difficulties with their siblings, and the main topic was sharing. Most of us have witnessed our children have difficulties while sharing whether it’s a specific toy or just a certain child. (Email me or Comment below to get the link for the podcast.)
But have you ever stopped to think why? Why is my child not wanting to share their toys? They didn’t have a problem yesterday or with this friend the other day.
Children build connections to object they feel are special to them. The items may not have value in our eyes, but that does not mean it is not important to the child. My daughter can get lost without her blanket, but if you return it to her it instantly relieves her worries or pain. My son has many random items that he feels are special to him.
We recently purchased a box for my son to keep his “special” items in that he doesn’t want to share with his sisters. Some of the items we do not understand, but we don’t necessarily need to. The box is medium-sized, and he is not allowed to place large items in there, legos, huge stuffed animals or his remote control cars. We have allowed him to feel some of his items are protected, but not allowed him to become possessive of everything in his room.
In addition to giving our children a special box for the smaller items that they feel are special to them and they do not want to share, we have also implemented a few new rules. If someone has an item they are not forced to share it until they are done using it. To be honest, at first my children had difficulty with this. However, after a few days my toddler began to follow this rule very well. She would feel protected while she had specific items, not rushed to enjoy them because she had to share in 5 minutes. She would enjoy the item while she was playing with it, and when she was done she would nicely hand it over to who wanted it next.
Now this rule is hard to follow when your child is playing with other children who are forced to share all the time- so in turn they think your child also has to. But in my house with my three children, and a few other houses who have the same rules, it works out great!!! There is a catch to this rule: first, if there is more than one of this item we usually encourage sharing. For example, multiple barbies, or dolls for a doll house. As well as when the item is large enough to be shared, we again encourage the sharing. For example the playground or a doll house, or even a large box of Legos.
After a few months of implementing this rule in our house I feel the children are really good about sharing or taking turns with things without me having to watch their every move. Yes I still have to remind them of this rule and the youngest does not yet understand it fully but we are starting to teach her.
I understand that this may not work for every family and you each are entitled to your own way of parenting. However, it is also a great way to teach children that there are differences between parenting styles, and to follow the rules that are in place in different environments.