“Sharing is caring” is one of those phrases that I hear in early childhood settings from time to time. Here’s the thing: “sharing isn’t caring”. If we force sharing, we are trampling over someone’s boundaries. That includes setting timers or taking the object away
I believe for most parents, we want our children to be kind and empathetic, which can get muddied by this concept of sharing. Consider what “sharing” looks like in adulthood:
“When you’re done using those scissors, may I use them?”
“Will you please send me that recipe later?”
When children get into a conflict over an object, we have a unique opportunity to teach lots of powerful lessons in a quick exchange. Here are some of the items that we *actually* want to teach instead of “sharing”:
- Ask first.
- “I’m not done with that. You can have a turn when I’m done.”
- Respecting someone else’s boundaries.
Waiting and Regulating:
- It’s hard to wait.
- We are capable of doing hard things.
- I can handle this.
- What can I do while I wait?
- How can we play this together?
- What is something we would both find enjoyable?
- He really wants this, so when I’m done, I can give it to him.
Remember, these skills may shine brightly during one part of the day, and then flicker out during another part of the day. When skills such as impulse control go off line, children need a calm adult to step in to support these skills.
The script above is taken from our family’s daily experience. Sometimes, I invite one of the boys into the kitchen with me (because it always happens while I’m cooking dinner), other times, I offer to sit in the room and play with him while he waits. What *usually* happens after that is magic: they both forget about the object entirely and join in for some sweet connection time.
What does sharing look like in your house?