Wednesday, June 8, 2016

About Sharing

I know I haven't been on this space very much lately--or really at all. Truth is: 1. Life is really busy right now, but it's a good busy and I'm happy to be so busy that I don't really have time for this because...2. I'm still not sure what I want this space to be or if I want to use it at all. I think I've decided that blogging to be a blogger is not for me (maybe more on that later). But blogging to connect with people has blessed my life helped me create/find friendships and I love that aspect. Not to mention, I do enjoy putting down my thoughts and keeping them as a journal. I have the writings from my first blog which basically chronicle the first 3-ish years of our marriage and I love it so much. Anyway, that's a topic for another day. 

But if you are here and if you are reading, I would like to just talk about this. It seems the moms that have more experience are always willing to give me some input on these topics and I wanted to see if we could discuss sharing

The older JaiseAnn gets, the more I notice two things happening: she has become far less willing to share (and cares much more about the things she's playing with) and she's expected to share by those around us. 

For a while, my gut reaction anytime there was a "toy issue"was to tell JaiseAnn to "share" which basically meant JaiseAnn giving up the toy since there's no way she knows how to play with the same toy with someone else yet and not all toys are multiple person toys anyway. After spending some time working in the nursery at church, I started to see a problem with the knee jerk reaction to demand that she (or any kid) "share." Then we had an experience a few weeks ago with family where sharing became a topic that Zach and I discussed a little more fully and man, it's this topic is a bit more complicated than I had expected for raising 2-year-old. Some of the things that our recent experience higlighted:

*Sharing shouldn't be required in every situation.
If JaiseAnn's playing with something and someone else comes and takes it away from her and she cries (or comes and destroys what she's playing with/building and she cries) it's okay for her to cry and it is not requisite that she share. The same goes for if someone else is doing something and she comes and takes it away or destroys their play activity--she should be the one reprimanded. We won't expect that child to share with her. 

*It's okay to teach her to have and respect boundaries. We feel that it's okay for her to learn boundaries such as: if someone is playing with something and you want it, you wait your turn.(If someone else is playing with someone or doing something she wants to do and she interferes or starts getting aggressive, I will tell her it's not her turn--I will not teach her to expect someone else to share.)  If you're playing with something and someone wants it, it's okay to continue playing but it would be nice to take turns. She should not be disciplined for crying when someone takes something away from her (it's crazy how many people think that taking a toy out of a kids hand and then that kid crying or grabbing it back is a sign that she's an "only child" or that she "really must not like to share." Because quite honestly, I would be totally ticked if someone took something away from me that I had first, but that rarely happens because that's not how the world works generally--most adults do respect boundaries. I'm not sure my daughter should learn any different.) 

*Age matters. This is perhaps one of the most difficult concepts to teach such a young child, but at her age, even a few months make a difference. The younger the child, the less they understand boundaries-the older the child the more sense these things makes. JaiseAnn has a 7-month old baby cousin who likes to get into her toys and she doesn't like it. In this situation, I try to explain to JaiseAnn that "he's just a baby and he just wants to play." This seems to make a tiny bit of sense to her, but say an 18-month old is a bit more confusing to her, but I still think she's able to reason more than an 18 month old so I try to take those opportunities to teach her and I expect less from the 18 month old. 

This whole sharing thing is actually really tricky. While I think sharing does teach her to be kind and giving, it's not really that mandatory for learning to be a good person. When toys are involved however, by nature kids need to learn to share to keep the peace. Every situation isn't a "sharing situation" though-or at least that's how it seems to me.  I know there are a lot of parents who declare they won't be teaching their children to share--period. I'm not one of those, but I'm finding that trying to bandaid conflict with children with "just share" doesn't really teach my daughter some of the more important things I want her to learn. Sharing is a huge part of childhood--and it's a huge part of the societal expectation in social situations with kids--so I feel that I should start approaching this the way I see best now even though she's young. Basically I love discussing boundaries lately (seriously, I had this whole revelation about boundaries on an online discussion about teaching for one of my new jobs and now I talk about boundaries a lot), but I feel that teaching JaiseAnn to have and  respect boundaries with something as simple as toys is a much more important life lesson.

So now I want to hear from you! Do you think that kids should be expected to share at all times and in every situation? If so, why? If you don't, how do you handle this (or suggest someone handle it) in social situations where someone else expects your child to share when you don't feel it's right? How do you explain this to your kids? WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON SHARING? I want to hear it all!

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