Lets talk about "sharing" - I think this is one of the BIGGEST issues for children, no actually its a big issue for grown ups! Parents often shudder when they see their child not willing to give up their toy to another child, most times this comes from a valid concern that their child be caring and compassionate. It is important that we encourage the development of compassionate, giving children but perhaps a common response to this issue is doing more damage than good. Let us begin the discussion:
-Young children are at the developmental stage of being egocentric. They are only capable of thinking of their own needs and their own desires. It isn’t until 7 -8 years that children began to see the world from someone else’s perspective.
When adults expect/demand a child to share it is developmentally inappropriate and an unrealistic expectation. Children are negatively affected when they are consistently expected/demanded to do something they are unable to do.
Children will learn to “share” when they are allowed to complete their experience (have their beginning, middle and end). When they can trust they are going to be given the opportunity to meet their own needs. When children have completed their task they are willing to allow other children to use the materials. When adults do not allow the child to get the whole experience or complete the task, we are teaching the child not to trust the adult and really pushes the child towards not being able to let anyone else us the object. Think about what happens when a child is engaged with an object and another child comes up and wants the object. Often the adult response is “friend, you need to share” or “you’ve had it long enough” and forces the child to give it to the friend. Do you see how this actually encourages the child to hold even tighter to the object and be more wary when a child approaches them to play. Also, the child becomes more concerned about losing the object then even playing with it.
So, what to do:
Taking turns – I tell a child “when you are done with that it will be Amy’s turn okay, when you are done give it to Amy” I also encourage him to tell Amy “Amy when I’m done it’s your turn.” It really works! The child with the object is learning that he is being respected and he can trust his needs will be meet. Amy sees the other child is being given as much time as needed and knows she will get the same opportunity when it is her turn. I am also intentional about following through when I see that he is finished, to remind him when he said Amy could have it when he is done and ask him if he wants to give it to Amy now.
We are charged to develop in our children healthy relationships that consist of trust and respect and help them begin to develop the desire to meet others needs. My desire is that each child knows they can trust us, that we really know and respect them and will do everything in our power to make sure their needs are met.
Any thoughts, comments, questions?