Thursday, July 1, 2010

To Share or Not To Share?

So recently we were at a playgroup and a lesson in sharing and well maybe to some, not some much sharing unfolded before my eyes...

Owen found a toy that he had just started to play with. No sooner did he start playing with said toy, another boy came over and tried to snatch the toy away from Owen. The mother of the boy came over and told her son to use his words and not to snatch toys away from other people. So the boy asked Owen if he could play with the toy. And Owen said "no, not yet." Well, the boy was upset and started to cry. Then the mom says, "Owen just doesn't want to share right now" and told her son to find something different to play with.

This really got me thinking. Does sharing really mean that my son needs to give up a toy he just got to play with to some other child who is wanting it right away? Is that really what sharing is all about? Why was I feeling like my son was doing something wrong by not giving up the toy. Why did I feel he was being the "bad" child because he wasn't ready to share the toy with the other boy. A toy that he had just found and just started to play with.

In our house, I really try to teach my kids to ask "may I play with that when you are done" vs snatching toys from each other or insisting they give the toy up to the other person regardless if they were done playing with it or not. To me that is what sharing is. Sharing doesn't mean that you have to give something to someone right away. Sharing to me means that you take turns - you share something...

The wonderful thing about this approach is you are teaching two very important lessons in one. First you are teaching the importance of sharing things with others. The other thing you are teaching is the importance of being patient and having self control while you wait for your turn.

So, if your child is wanting to play with something that someone else has - teach them the importance of asking for a turn and what it means to be patient. Don't focus on the behavior of the other child as not wanting to share, because that's not really what sharing is about. Also, those types of comments are really just said to make the other person feel guilty and honestly I feel should never be said to another person's child. And just in case you are curious, when Owen was done playing with the toy, he did seek out the other boy (with a little help from me) and gave him the toy and told him he could have a turn. Now, that is what I consider sharing!

What are your thoughts on sharing? How do you handle similar situations in your home or at playgroups?


  1. Great post Jenn... and I agree. You and Owen did a great job and teaching sharing. ;)

  2. I totally agree. It seems especially bad at the park when dealing with strangers. Just because you want to swing, doesn't mean that my kids has to get off the swing.
    Is there an unwritten swing timelimit that i don't know about? It would be nice for us to get off the swing sooner because you are waiting, but my kid is not being mean if he is not done yet.
    I think teaching kids to accept no graciously is even more important. "oh, okay, I can wait." seems like a much more important social skill.

  3. I completely agree - accepting no graciously is a very important lesson. And just so you know, as far as I'm aware, there isn't any unwritten swing time limit out there! ;-)

  4. i also 100% agree with you!!! i don't know what I would have done in that situation as the mother of owen,(if the other child was smaller that my child then i might say do you want to share with him and let him play with it, but as the same age child i would explain to my child that when they are done can they please share the toy with the other child after they take their turn..) but as the mother of the other boy, i would have told my child who was trying to snatch it away from owen, that he needs to wait until that child is done as he had the toy first so he needs to wait until that child is done with his turn then he can have a are right, that is what sharing is all about! I would have redirected my child to play with something else telling them they have to wait their turn to play with the toy, i wouldn't have said that the other child doesn't want to share right now..that really is not right to say and i would be very offended.

  5. Yeah, Mya -- parenting can be tough. What's great though is when certain situations do come up, it gives everyone an opportunity to learn and grow from it. I really had to sit down and think about what sharing means to me and what I want to teach my kids about sharing. And this is what I came up with. And of course what I think for me and my family may not be the same for another family...but that's okay. Just provides me another opportunity to teach my kids something else! ;-)

    You made some excellent points and it seems you have thought about this before!