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I’ve never met a parent in Egypt so far who doesn’t force his/her child to share toys with other kids. Whether we’re in a play area or have parents over at our house whose child wants to play with our kid’s stuff, we always force children to share. We even suggest taking turns. I’m sure you do it. I do it too. It’s okay. We believe that this way we’re planting generosity in our children and encouraging them to share. Yet, according to recent studies, we are actually not handling it correctly.
Why you shouldn’t force your child to share
According to Psychology Today, children would neither understand the meaning nor the value of sharing until they’re around five years old. Imagine that your child is playing with a car at a play area and another child starts screaming and try to grab the car from your child’s hands. Well, if you forced your child to share, that will lead to negative reactions:
Your child will learn that sharing means unwillingly allowing someone to interfere and take something that is his. Conclusion: Sharing makes me sad.
Being loud will get you what you want!
Both children will get the message that if they cry, they will get what they want. That will definitely be used against you.
When you allow the other child to take your child’s toy, you’re normalizing the concept that it’s okay if someone takes away their things when they’re unwilling to share yet. That might later turn them into bullying victims.
How do I handle awkward situations?
- You can first relax; it’s not “3eeb”. Tell the other kid that their turn will come once your child is done playing with it. You can also help your child to practice saying that.
- Assure the waiting child that you’re there while they’re waiting for their turn.
- Explain to the parent of the other child that this is your parenting approach.
Pros of NOT sharing:
According to Heather Shumaker’s book, It’s OK Not to Share…And Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids, the benefits of this approach are:
For your child:
- It will help them to speak up for their rights and set boundaries with others.
- When your child hands the toy and both experience a happy moment, they’ll learn that kind acts make the other happy. That’s how they’ll truly learn generosity.
For the other child:
- It will help them practice patience.
Which parenting team are you: Forced-sharing or not-sharing?