Most of us grew up with the same basic lessons from pre-school and kindergarten. Raise your hand. Don't run with scissors. Wash your hands often. Say 'please' and 'thank you.' Cover your mouth when you sneeze. Whatever you do, don't eat the paste. And maybe the biggest one of all? Share, share, share.
It's one of the first lessons we teach our little ones. But one mom, Beth W. at Very Bloggy, is trying something controversial: she's not teaching her son to share.
Beth isn't teaching her child to take indiscriminately or lord possessions over the other children. The rule that she and the other parents at the co-op preschool agreed to was simple: "A child can keep a toy as long as they want to. If another child wants the toy, they have to wait until the first child is done with it. We’ll even “save” toys for the child if they have to go to the bathroom, go to the snack table, etc. so that it won’t get taken before they’re done. This applies to anything in the yard or school that can be played with, including swings and monkey bars."
Beth says that this approach works well and most of the children learn quickly that they need to wait until another child is done. What surprised her was the sharing-centric approach favored by the parents she'd encounter outside the school. Beth gives the example of another Mommy friend and 2-year-old son out at a park: "He had brought a small car from home to play with. Another child, a little bit older, wanted to play with the car and was demanding that my friend’s son give him the car. A typical toddler scuffle ensued, and the other mother told her son, “I guess his mom didn’t teach him how to share.” Never mind the fact that the car belongs to him and that when someone asks you to share, “No” is a perfectly legitimate response." She says it's a very common playground and daycare center issue for moms to cut into young children's playtime to admonish children for not sharing the toys or communal space that they've laid claim to.
Beth's reasoning goes further than just preventing a toddler meltdown: "I think it does a child a great disservice to teach him that he can have something that someone else has, simply because he wants it... It’s a good lesson for you both to learn that this isn’t always possible, and you shouldn’t step all over other people to get these things."
Not only does it teach social skills like humility and acceptance, but Beth believes that this approach is much closer to the kind of adult these children will grow up to be: "Think about your own day-to-day adult life. You wouldn’t cut in front of someone in the grocery checkout line just because you didn’t feel like waiting. And most grown adults wouldn’t take something from someone, like a phone or a pair of sunglasses, just because they wanted to use it."
What do you think about Beth's approach? Is she helping her child to grow up to be more patient and less entitled? Or do you think phasing out a ubiquitous sharing policy will raise kids to be selfish and taunting? Sound off in the comments and tag another Mom to keep this conversation going.