Why does this Singapore mum think that kids should NOT be forced to share? "I don’t make our daughter share", she says. Read WHY!
We start drilling the word “Share” into our kids as soon as they start babbling. We secretly hope that by enforcing the habit of sharing, we are moulding our kids into kind, generous souls capable of doing good to mankind.
However, this Singapore mum thinks that kids should NOT be forced to share.
Kids should NOT be forced to share
Singapore mum Sharon (not her real name) is tired of people asking kids to share stuff with their friends. She explains in an online parenting group, why she never ‘asks her daughter to share’:
“‘Share, share’, the well-intentioned Auntie at the playground cries. I cringe inside, and hold my tongue. Why, you may ask? I don’t make our daughter share. I encourage turn-taking instead, if the children (from observation) are not able to work out their dispute.”
“I get my very impulsive toddler to ask for the object. Sometimes she gets a “yes”, and she is massively happy. Other times she gets a “no”, in which case she learns that she can’t get what she always wants, and that she has to respect someone else’s choice too. And she may have a tantrum about that. And that’s fine too.”
This mum also lists her reasons as to why turn taking is a much better alternative to sharing:
- “Giving something away to someone else feels good.
- The ‘giving’ child’s view: I have some rights. I can stand up for myself and adults will support me.
- The ‘waiting’ child learns: I can wait. I know my turn will come. I can and will have to learn to control my impulses. This teaches them delayed gratification skills and develops impulse control.
- It grows trust between the adult and child: I trust that someone will come and get me when it’s my turn.
- Adults believe and trust what I am doing is important. I am important. I trust the adults in my life.“
Thank you, Sharon, for ‘sharing’ this very valuable lesson with us. We are sure that this will spur many parents to rethink their approach when it comes to asking kids to ‘share’ things with their friends.
Sharing vs. Turn-taking – What works, and how?
To understand why turn-taking works and sharing does not, let’s take a look at a real life adult scenario. Imagine that you were in the middle of using a stapler in your office, and someone asked for it, or took it away from you. What would you do? Would you gladly give it away, or expect the other person to have the courtesy to wait ‘until you were done’? In other words, to ‘wait for their turn’?
The same turn-taking concept should also apply to young kids. All sorts of thoughts and feelings run through the minds of little children when you simply ask them to ‘share’. Thoughts like, “Aren’t my feelings important too?”, “Does sharing mean giving up on things that I like?” or even, “My mother loves that girl more than me”.
And this is why we should prioritise child directed turn-taking over sharing:
- True generosity: In adult enforced sharing, the child feels ‘obliged’ to share, and does it for the sake of obeying the parent. She was hardly ‘done’ playing with her toy, when she had to give it away. That’s a sad-bitter feeling, not the happy-happy feeling that comes out of being kind and generous to others.
But when the child willingly hands over her toy after having her fill of it, that’s a joyous moment for both the kids. As mummy Sharon puts it, “Children will often get sneaky and share only to please an adult, and will not share when an adult is not watching. True generosity, however, can be habit-forming. The glow of generosity comes in part because the brain releases neurotransmitters, reinforcing the “reward circuitry” in kids’ brains.”
- Positive assertiveness: Rather then butt in and interfere in your kid’s fights, teach your child to say, “You can have it when I’m done.” That one line gives your child the power to stand up for himself, and to set boundaries. It teaches him how to say ‘No’, something that we adults often have trouble with.
- Impulse control: The waiting child may go through frustration, disappointment, anger, and sadness. He may even throw tantrums. It is okay, for over time he is learning the very valuable life skills of controlling his behaviour and emotions, and more importantly, his impulses.
To wait for a toy, and to not grab it- that’s where impulse control comes in, and it gets stronger with practice. In future, the child will also learn to be more empathetic to others in similar situations.
- Communication and problem solving skills: Just saying that “I am not done yet. It’s your turn when I’m done, okay?” is teaching your child to communicate and say ‘No’ effectively.
Also, sometimes a child may not part easily with a favourite toy. How then to determine when a turn is over? Isn’t this problem an opportunity for problem solving among children?
Setting time frames can be one approach to overcome this problem, and works well for adults too. For example, If you were using that stapler for a good 30 minutes, and there was no other stapler in the office, and other people needed to use it, it would make sense to hand it over to the next person after your allotted time.
It may sound new to our Asian mindsets, but turn-taking teaches a child to recognise other’s needs, to be selfless when appropriate, and that, no one has the right to forcibly take something from him without his consent.
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