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Why do we teach our children to share?

(18 Posts)
emkana Fri 28-Jan-05 19:16:34

After all, you wouldn't offer half of your cake to the person sitting next to you in a cafe, would you, no matter how longingly they look at it, would you? And if you sat on a bus reading a magazine you would be very surprised to say the least if the person next to you expected a read.

So why do we expect our children to share?
This is something that came up in a conversation today, and I couldn't really say why I feel children should learn to share - even though I do, and try to teach my children to share.
[confused emoticon]

twiglett Fri 28-Jan-05 19:20:41

because you don't teach them to share with strangers, you teach them to share with friends

its about give and take, compromise and friendly negotiation

its skills that are completely necessary for living in society

(off the top of my head )

shrub Fri 28-Jan-05 19:22:23

social embarrasement - when children start taking things from one another? - such a primal instinct, there being no yours or mine - completely agree about it being such a strange thing to teach them at such a young age only for it then to be reversed as we get older.

happymerryberries Fri 28-Jan-05 19:22:56

Because it is a life skill.

I teach kids in secondary school. I am always horrified at how bad some of them are at sharing equipment, books and even my time. I asked one boy to put up his hadnd when he wanted help (rather than yell out (he is 13 btw) and he said 'Why, you make me wait anyway', ie he had to wait his turn while I was dealing with someone else.

We share in our family, I share my time and food with friends and in doing so enjoy my food all the more. It is a skill that is well worth learning

Casmie Fri 28-Jan-05 19:27:38

I certainly remember one school of thought (Montessouri) which says that sharing can be bad so encourages turn taking instead? I think the thought being that if your child is concentrating hard (say) building a brick tower and then you enforce sharing with another child at that point, it breaks their concentration and they lose the learning opportunity - particularly if they "needed" all the bricks to do something.

It's something I have been aware of and try to strike a balance between expecting ds1 to share, to decide which toys are too special to share and when turn taking is more appropriate.

Casmie Fri 28-Jan-05 19:28:43

Sorry ... there should have been a question mark after Montessouri - I'm only guessing that's where I read it.

franch Fri 28-Jan-05 19:31:06

That sounds very wise, Casmie. I do think certain personal possessions should be respected - there are things of mine that I wouldn't hand over to others! But the general principles of sharing and turn-taking are extremely important in avoiding selfishness and acknowledging the needs of others.

pebbley Fri 28-Jan-05 20:08:01

I agree with you all!

I think that teaching young children to 'share' encompasses a whole range of social skills that are really important - turn-taking, patience, co-operation - basically developing the emotional maturity to recognise others' needs as well as your own...you can't function properly in society without being able to do that. Small children are all 'ego' - and quite rightly so when they first start to develop a sense of self - but they need to get past that at some stage and learn about others. Sharing is part of that.

I do think that insisting children always share toys is daft - it does break the flow of their play and learning, but in a nursery/school setting they do need to learn that it will be someone elses turn soon. That could be called sharing. And they need to learn to 'share' ideas. I've come across so many lonely children who are isolated because they won't listen to or join in others' ideas for imaginative games or investigations, and always end up by themselves

In adult contexts I think basic 'sharing' is still there but in more subtle ways - patiently waiting in the PO queue, flashing to let people out when driving, giving old baby clothes to a charity shop, offering to do a school run after your neighbour did it etc etc - just being considerate of others.

handlemecarefully Fri 28-Jan-05 22:08:53

Because its basic good manners?

suzywong Fri 28-Jan-05 22:12:17

so other mothers don't tut at us in the playground

essbee Fri 28-Jan-05 22:13:57

Message withdrawn

tex111 Fri 28-Jan-05 22:21:08

I agree that it's good manners and with the remarks that pebbley made.


I so remember being forced to share with one of my cousins when I was little and she always broke things. I hated sharing crayons with her because she would peel the paper off and wear down the tip (I was a picky little thing, guess that's still true ). Really broke my heart sometimes. I wouldn't want to force the same thing on DS so if he has a new or special toy that he doesn't want to share we have a rule that he puts it away when he has friends over to play. I try to teach him that he doesn't have to share everything but he does have to be polite about it.

Gwenick Fri 28-Jan-05 22:22:59

Haven' read the replies yet - shall do that in a minute

True you wouldn't offer your cake to a stranger.......

But if it was your best friend, or your DH - you probably WOULD offer him some. And if your friends came over and picked up the magazine lying on the table would you take it away because it's "yours".......

Gwenick Fri 28-Jan-05 22:24:45

And if children never learn to 'play' together - how will they learn to 'work' together when they're older. Many jobs these days expect 'team players' - part of which is a mutual respect and sharing...

soapbox Fri 28-Jan-05 22:26:01

Casmie you are right it is the Montessori philosophy that sharing is not paramount. It is not discouraged as such but the emphasis on good manners is put on the child who wishes to join the activity rather than the child who is already doing it.

The child wishing to join must ask whether it is ok to join in (to share) and it is up to the other child whether he/she lets them. So if it is an activity such as doing a jigsaw or a painting which the child wishes to finish on their own then they can say no. Equally they can say no if its playing with a train set or building with blocks. However, IME it was always extremely rare for a child to say no to someone joining in when the activity was in the latter catagory. Somehow the children knew that an activity such as playing with a train set was more enjoyable when shared

I liked the balance in the Montessori teaching which was incredibly gentle in many ways and never failed to promote good manners. I think in adult life the Montessori way is more representative of how we negotiate sharing. If I was in a restaurant and want to have a taste of DHs food I don't just dive in with my fork and help myself - I ask first whether I might have a taste and he will inevitably say yes

Sharing as adults is still important though - it is at the crux of a lot of sport - passing the ball in football - letting your doubles partner have a turn playing tennis.

I get a buzz out of sharing my hair products, make-up etc with my friends - the OMG this product is fantastic go on have a go you won't believe how great you will look etc etc

We tend to share a lot of experience - I will help someone with business related problems, as that is what I'm good at - equally one of my friends will do some Reiki on me 'cos thats what she's good at.

We share a lot of child related activities with friends - you take my child home for tea this week and I'll have your's round next week. Or we make sure that the friend who jumped in at a moments notice to pick our children up from school gets something that they would value in return - be it flowers, a bottle of wine or whatever

Casmie Sat 29-Jan-05 11:05:59

Ooo... I like the idea that the joining child asks, soapbox. That sounds like it works very well - and does make sense.

I have to say, because I don't force ds1 to share everything (he is allowed to have special toys he keeps away) he frequently amazes me with his generosity by spontaneously bringing down his really special teddy (the one he goes to sleep with) for his brother to play with occasionally or other such precious things. I don't know if that would be in his nature anyway, but maybe it wouldn't be so obvious if we had a policy of everything shared - and it's so lovely to see.

franch Sat 29-Jan-05 13:08:53

Casmie, you must be doing something right

I liked your post a lot soapbox. It's something I'll definitely bear in mind - DD is only 12mo so not an issue quite yet, but it won't be long. My question is: what happens when a Montessori kid meets a non-Montessori kid? E.g. if DD is taught always to ask before joining in and that she has the right to say no to another child who asks, what is she supposed to do when another child just barges in and starts 'participating' in her activity? Must be particularly awkward if that child's 'Always Share' mum is looking on, too??

collision Sat 29-Jan-05 13:21:13

and because if I have to share my crisps with ds then he should share his with me!!!!!!

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