Wednesday, June 26

Sharing is NOT Caring

One of the silliest platitudes that you often see taped to the wall in schools is “Sharing is Caring.”
Well maybe in an environment like school where everything belongs to the school, kids need to be reminded to share everything. But in our own homes my kids have the right to not share their possessions.

This does not mean that I don’t encourage them to share. I do explain to them about empathy and that sharing a toy often makes it more fun to play with. That sharing with others can make us feel good.
But the final decision is up to the children.

Just as I have ownership of my things so do they.
It comes down once again to the equal rights of children.
If I have a say over who can use my car or my laptop then they should have a say in who uses their belongings.

I love to share.
I share with other adults and with my children all the time.
 There are many possessions in our house that are “mine”. Craft supplies I have bought myself, special treats, the “good” scissors etc. My kids ask me if they can use my things and most often I share with them.

I show them the same respect. I ask if I want to use my sons Playstation. I ask if I can go into their rooms. And most often they share with me too.

They are great at sharing with other kids too.
Because they have the right to say “no” does not mean they say no all the time. They love to share.

BUT there are occasions when they don’t.
This often involves other kids who don’t get the concept of ownership because they have been forced to share.
I usually explain to the other kid that as it belongs to “x” he doesn't have to share it and I will offer the child another toy that is communal property.

Often other children do not respect the “please ask before using it” request.
My son got very frustrated recently, after repeatedly requesting of a visiting child, “Can you please ask me before you go into my room and get my toys?” I can totally understand this! If an adult was visiting in my home and kept taking things without the respect of asking me if it was OK first I would be frustrated too.

Often other parents get shitty when I don’t force my kids to share. They do not understand that a child has equal rights in my home. They don’t have the paradigm or relationship with their own child in which to explain that “x” doesn't have to share his special toys with you because that parent has repeatedly told their child that they MUST share.

I do encourage my children to put away their precious belongings before others come over and to have some things out that they are happy to share. But some children who have never been shown the respect of controlling their own belongings really do not get personal ownership and will continue to take and hassle for everything and invade my children’s space. I see this as a sad side effect of forcing “good” behaviour on children.
They are simply “doing” the behaviour but have not understood the reasons why.
They are behaving in certain ways to please their parents but do not understand the intrinsic feelings behind behaving a certain way.
And then often they act in the opposite way when the parents are not looking.
They feel “wanting” but do not understand why.

Forcing kids to always share is bullying, controlling parenting and is dis-empowering in the long run for children.
I give my kids the right to have ownership and responsibility for their own possessions.

We all want our kids to be kind and caring but forcing them to enact these behaviours does not make kind and caring people.
If parents model these behaviours the child will naturally learn them. They will learn them when they are ready, old enough to want to. Each child differs and of course there is no age which is “old enough” When the child is developmentally ready they will understand these concepts. When they feel safe and that their belongings are respected they will share them.


carole johnston said...

This is interesting, and I can see what you mean,however at school the situation is totally different as they are talking I believe very generally..However my brother and I were taught to share but he never would, he has grown up a very selfish 67 year old I on the other hand listened to Mum, give too much away I am told.My cousin is an only child does not share,never has .she was a city child that visited us in the country, we had very little she had so much but we were not to touch her pocessions we would look on with such envy at her many barbie dolls..guess what as an adult she is very wealthy selfish person, we on the other hand give continually to family and community.Just be careful you enrich your children with the wonderful warmth sharing,caring and giving is and how wonderfully it feeds their soul.Not a criticism just at this end of the age scale we can see the results of being taught caring is sharing.

karen said...

i agree that kids should be able to choose what they share just like we do. When kids bring toys to my house if another child wants to play with it the child can either share or put it in their bags for home time. Thats what works for me because i feel like im respecting their right and also being fair to the others. That sounds realy rude that the other kids go in their rooms when they've been asked not to. I don't see that the child or other parent for that matter has any right to your children's toys if their put away, what would they do if their child broke something they weren't even meant to be playing with? Everyone has special things that they only want to share on their own terms when their ready

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