Well, I blew it!!! I totally forgot to blog yesterday (Wednesday). And I even had a topic all ready & everything. Just. Totally. Forgot. I know some of you will forgive...and some won't (you know who you are! :))
So, I'll just keep right on as if it's Wednesday & nothing is any different.
A sweet mommy friend of mine was puzzling over the issue of sharing the other day. Hmmm....well, we've DEFINITLEY been there, done that...so, it seemed like a timely topic.
Sharing is competely optional.
Seriously, it is, though.
Like most good mommies, I wanted to teach my 2 sweet little girls to share politely with others as well as EACH other without fuss. Of course, I also wanted world peace & and an end to world hunger. Yeah, they are all pretty much in the same category. When we first encountered this issue, my hubby & I *SURPRISINGLY* didn't see things the same way!! What?!?! You teach your kid to share, no questions asked, right? Not according to him. Ooooohhhh. I fumed! He was really so strange. *sigh* God love him.
Here was his thought: "If it belongs to you, it's yours. You have the CHOICE to share."
I didn't like that. Nope. But, being a good wife (and seeing as how he said this was how it was gonna be), I adopted his rules.
Ya know, I really did marry the smartest man on earth! I now totally, 100% agree with this thought! With that little bit of background info divulged, let me elaborate for you.
There are some definites in parenting. Your children should obey (the first time, everytime...), should be polite & well-mannered, should grow up to be productive members of society.
Then there are the gray areas. These are the things we want to instill in our kids that we see as good character traits. In my mind, this is where sharing falls.
Sharing is an abstract thought, something that we can all choose to do. Or not. Sometimes, sharing isn't even the right thing to do. Yes, you may have a stick of my gum. No, you may not share my husband. See what I mean? Some things are just not meant to be shared (toothbrushes, underclothing, laptops, Kindles....)
So, how did we teach our kids to share (we DO participate in this practice, after all)?
Well, we leave it up to them. If they are playing with the new toy they recently received for their birthday, and a sibling or other child wants to play with it, they have the option of saying no. It is, after all, THEIR toy. It was specifically purchased for them. This goes for items they have purchased with their own money as well. Pretty much anything that is specifically for them. Consider this: we, as adults, have those untouchables. Those things we kinda don't want to share (like laptops), and it's ok as long as that mentality doesn't extend to every situation where sharing is an option.
There are many things to address when teaching this to our kiddos, one of which is: Attitude.
Child 1: Can I play with your new car?
Child 2: No, I just got this for my birthday, & I don't really want to share it yet.
Child 1: MOM!!! She's not sharing!!!
Mom: Well, honey, she doesn't have to, it belongs to her & it is new.
Yes, we have had this scenario many times, no it doesn't always go smoothly (think toddlers), but we support the owner of the new toy in their decision - as long as the attitude & motive are correct.
Child 1: Can I play with your new car?
Child 2: NO!!!! MOOOOOMMMMM SHE IS TOUCHING MY NEW CARRRRRRR!!!!
Mom: You may NOT scream! You do not have to share your new toy, but you DO have to be nice! Now, because you were screaming, you will need to put the toy away & you won't be playing with it anymore today.
This is a pretty straightforward example when the item belongs specifically to the child.
However, I do want my kids to learn to share, after all, it is something we ALL have to do no matter how old we are. Not only that, we have to learn to do it with a cheerful heart.
How do we teach that?
Hmmm...my favorite way to teach kiddos is through object lessons. They are very tangible, real ways for them to "see" what you want them to learn.
In the case of teaching sharing, I might do something like this:
Get out something like cookies which they will invariably as me for. How I respond depends on what I am wanting to teach. If one kid has been real bad about not sharing, then I won't share with them. I will explain that I just don't feel like sharing MY cookies with him. They are, after all, MY cookies. Yes, there will be frustration, even tears. I will then explain that, when they are selfish, it hurts others. Later, if I see that they have had an about-face about sharing, I make a HUGE deal of it!! Praise, praise, praise (and maybe even a cookie). I tell them how proud I am of their act of selflessness.
*Note: this may take a while, but it does work*
I have also made a show of sharing with other kids & excluding the selfish one. Sounds harsh, doesn't it? It may be, but it is effective. No one likes to be left out. I make sure to let them know WHY I am not sharing with them. I may say, "I am not sharing with you because you don't like to share with others, and I figure you're ok with that (they're not). If you choose to start sharing nicely, then I will be happy to share with you, too, but for now, I am choosing not to share with you." My choice, right?
Putting the choice in their hands is tricky, but if you are faithful to educate them on how to consider others, it can work grandly.
What about if it's a kid who is over visiting? They get carte blanc with your kiddo's toys, right. Not necessarily. I mean, if I have company, do I let them use any & everything in our home? No. Certainly, if they ask permission, I will probably allow it (unless it's my toothbrush...)
If you are having company, then pre-think some of these situations. Does your child have a special toy (doll, expensive toy, lovey...) that they are particularly protective of? Then put it away. There is nothing wrong with not granting access to EVERY toy in the house. Close doors (we have even put notes on closet doors: DO NOT OPEN OR WE WILL BE FORCED TO CHOP YOUR FINGERS OFF!!!), pull out non-threatening toys & bring them into a common area. The more you do to alleviate stress, the more your child will enjoy their play date. I will admit that this idea didn't come to me until we'd had several kids. I believe it came when we had some company with particularly unruly children. During the course of the evening, their child (8-10 years) crawled into my little girl's doll carriage & flattened it. He also got into the baby's crib & caused some damage. OOOOHHHHH!!! I fumed!! His parents laughed it off: "Boys will be boys". Um, not 'round here!!! So, next time, I set some unwritten rules...then quietly went to make sure they were being observed. Closets are off limits, as are bunk beds, and any closed door. Yes, I have also spoken directly to unruly kiddos if their parents don't seem to be, shall we say, concerned.
What if a child repeatedly refuses to share what belongs to them...and they are rather...uppity about it. Well, when the other children come to me complaining (c'mon, you know they will!!), I say things like this (keep in mind, I just love to use sarcasm...it's a fault of mine...):
"Well, he doesn't haaaave to share, although I suuuurrreee would be happy if he did, buuuuuutttt apparently he is more interested in being selfish, sooooo you will just have to find someone else to play with since heeeee only likes to play alone." All the while casting disapproving glances in the direction of Mr. Selfish. Oh, how they don't like mom to disapprove. Very effective. Especially if you coddle the complainer a bit, ("I know you are disappointed, would you like a cookie? I know it's not the same as playing with a car, but maybe it will help") I know, I'm evil.
As a closing, I would like to address older kid's belongings. We have a household where we have (pretty much) adult children (don't tell her I said that) all the way down to toddlers. This can create much anger, frustration & tears where belonging are concerned. I can sympathize. How many of MY things have been broken, used or otherwise mismanaged by kids? How to handle?
Well, cleanliness is strongly encouraged. What is put away cannot be accessed by small hands. If it was not put away properly, it's destruction gets little sympathy from me. The key is to provide the older child with locations to safely keep their belongings. Sometimes this is a safety issue. My boys have pocket knives...their 2 & 3 year old sisters, do not. There is a reason for that! So, they are kept in a safe place in my room (I am planning to buy combination safe boxes for the boys for Christmas). Smallish kids who get into things they shouldn't...are reprimanded immediately, sometimes having to replace items broken with their own money.
Ok, I have droned enough about this topic...I hope it helps.
Like I said, sharing is optional, and I chose to share this info with you.
You're welcome. :0)