From a very young age, children are taught to share. Society’s view of a well-raised child is one who shares his coloring books and toys with his classmates and friends without complaint. That kid you see on the playground crying because another child took his toy? He just needs to learn to share, right?
Sharing is caring, sharing is generous, sharing is kind. As a parent, you want to help your child learn and grow. But have you ever considered the fact that forcing your child to share with others is causing them to progress backward, not forward?
Here are five reasons why you shouldn’t ask your child to share:
1. It Goes Against The Lesson Of Patience
If your child sees Tommy playing with a toy he wants, you might feel the urge to walk up to Tommy and ask him to share. When Tommy hands the toy to you, you proudly hand it over to your happy child and congratulate yourself for being a good parent. Here’s the problem with that scenario: you’re teaching your child that if he wants something, he can have it, no if’s and’s or but’s. What happened to teaching a child the importance of patience? Everything in life cannot suddenly be theirs at the drop of a hat, just because they say so. Instead, ask your child if they’d like to find something else to play with until Tommy is finished.
2. Some Toys Are Too Special To Share
Whether it’s a baby doll, Tonka truck or stuffed animal, every child has a handful of toys that are special to them. Forcing them to share these toys isn’t fair to them. A coloring book might not mean much to them, but asking them to let another child play with their prized possession could actually hurt your child’s feelings.
3. Respect Your Child
Sharing is great, if a person doesn’t mind doing it. But is it OK to force your child to share? By forcing your child to do whatever you tell them, you’re taking away their right to make their own decisions. If you respect your child, they’ll respect you, as well as the people around them.
4. Young Children Don’t Understand Empathy
When you behave the way you want your child to behave, they’ll see your example. Eventually, it will become naturally to them. If you are a kind, loving and generous person, chances are your child will be too. But very young children, specifically children under 3, aren’t able to process or understand empathy. When you take their toy away and give it to another child, they aren’t able to understand why.
5. Adults Aren’t Expected To Share
You want your child to be responsible for their belongings. As an adult, you aren’t expected to share things that are valuable to you, so why should you expect that from your child? If you want to give something to someone, that is your decision. But no one is entitled to your things, just like you aren’t entitled to anyone else’s possessions.