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'Sharing' - why?

(43 Posts)
Octaviapink Mon 20-Jun-11 12:17:03

I've just posted on another thread and it's made me think about this a bit more. I don't expect/make my children share their stuff with other children if they don't want to - I don't share my things if I don't want to and it would seem frankly hypocritical to make them do it. But 'sharing' seems to carry a lot of emphasis these days - obviously it's different at nursery or wherever if it's communal stuff but am I being remiss by not teaching enforced sharing to my two? I'm fine with them understanding the concept of ownership and that they're allowed to say 'no' if they don't want someone to play with their toys, but am I wrong?

EauRouge Mon 20-Jun-11 12:38:46

No, I don't think you are wrong. I tell DD1 that if there's anything she doesn't want to share when a friend comes over then we can put it away somewhere. She has several favourite toys and some she is quite attached to in a security-blanket kind of way, I don't think she should have to share them if she doesn't want to.

I think it's a bit unfair on both DD1 and her friend if the non-shareable toys are left out though, it's confusing to her friend because they don't know what they are allowed to play with and it's upsetting to DD1 to have to defend her favourite non-shareable toys. If she forgets anything then it gets put away as soon as any arguing starts.

Mind you, the way DD1 is at the moment I've been avoiding other toddlers lest any 'play-dates' descend into violence hmm grin

Fennel Mon 20-Jun-11 12:43:13

Mine have a rule that they could have some toys that were special, that they never needed to share, and others that they had to be prepared to share. Otherwise you can get in that situation when a visiting child isn't allowed to play with anything.

That worked quite well, especially if the special toys were put away before children came round, but even without, as long as there were lots of toys to share too then everyone was happy, mostly.

monkoray Mon 20-Jun-11 12:44:19

You make really good points and I am going to rethink the way I do play dates. Thank you both for your wise thoughts

monkoray Mon 20-Jun-11 12:45:05

X post with fennel

Jaspants Mon 20-Jun-11 12:46:44

I tell mine to put away anything precious in my room and then everything else can be used by guests.

Gets them to share some stuff and means they keep unwanted guests out of my room too.

cory Mon 20-Jun-11 12:46:54

Well, it is going to make playdates very difficult if the child whose home it is refuses to let the other child get at any toys.

Ds once played with a little boy like that; it basically involved ds sitting in a corner watching the other child having fun. He couldn't see the point. So your child might not find themselves very popular.

I think EauRouge's solution is ideal: put aside your special possessions that you don't want to share and share the rest. After all, you don't invite adult guests into your house to tell them that you can't sit on my sofa or have tea out of my tea pot or use our coathangers, do you? But otoh you would not expect a guest to use your nightie or read your correspondence. So a division between private possessions and temporarirly shared possessions seems reasonable.

Roo83 Mon 20-Jun-11 14:09:56

As an adult do you really not share you're possessions? Ive loaned friends my iPad, car, clothes etc. and my friends share things with me in return. We often share a starter when out in restaurants. I can understand putting away a couple of really special items but I think it would be a real shame for my kids not to learn to share. I get a lot of pleasure from making others happy, I'd like to think my kids will be the same.

colditz Mon 20-Jun-11 14:13:16

Yes you're wrong, and you're raising your children to be selfish. or maybe not, maybe you're raising your children to be kind, and giving, yet confident and assertive? It also depends what you mean by share - what some people mean when they complain someone else's dc doesn't share is that the child won't instantly roll over and hand over whatever it is their child wants. I don't make my children hand over something they are playing with just because someone else wants it. But I DO make them share 'communal' toys such as lego, the Wii and train tracks.

colditz Mon 20-Jun-11 14:14:26

Also, my children are not allowed to snatch one of 'their' toys off a visiting child, just because it's 'theirs'. That's selfish and naughty.

cory Mon 20-Jun-11 14:26:30

When two adults meet socially the equipment needed, so to speak, for their intercourse is something to sit on, somewhere to put your coat, something to drink and possibly eat and whatever crockery etc is needed to do this. It would be a very weird hostess indeed who refused to share these with a friend (no you can't have tea from my kettle!).

When two children meet socially, the equipment needed for social intercourse is toys. You wouldn't expect to be allowed to snatch a toy the other child was playing with (any more than you would expect to grab your hostess' tea cup out of her hand and drink out of it), but it would be plain weird to be denied access to the toy box.

MovingAndScared Mon 20-Jun-11 14:26:42

Yes that what we did on play dates as well - some special things away and everything else they had to share - once my DS1 got through the not wanting to share time he really enjoys playing together with his friends so I think it is a valuable skill to learn - another thing we would do is timing - so one child would have 2 minutes on something and then it was passed on to the other - that seems to help
As an adult I have some things I am happy to share and others I am not so I think its reasonable

Octaviapink Mon 20-Jun-11 15:20:24

Actually, colditz I said I don't share (or feel obliged to share) if I don't want to - and I don't ask my children to share if they don't want to. Usually DD is very good about letting other children play with her toys - especially as the point of playdates is to play together - but I don't make her share things she doesn't want to. She's not allowed to snatch, full stop, but she is allowed to refuse a request to play with something.

MamaLaMoo Mon 20-Jun-11 16:02:03

I read advice in a good parenting book which said similar to EauRouge, that it is normal for children to have special toys they would not want others to monopolise or break (we had this happen sadly) and to put them away before a play date. Also to respect other children's special toys, favourite teddy that goes everywhere or whatever.

Forcing a small child to let another play with something they are very attached to is cruel IMO. They just stand there and watch the other kid manhandling their favourite cuddly looking very uncertain and upset. So your right, not everything has to be shared.

Small (under 3) children often struggle with sharing as a concept because they don't actually play together more alongside each other, so I use the phrase "taking turns" instead of sharing, "Little Johnny is using the car now, it is your turn when he is done".

cory Mon 20-Jun-11 16:18:49

So, Octavia, how would you handle a playdate like the one ds was one, where one child decides he doesn't actually want to let the other child have anything at all. Would you find it acceptable for one child to just be left on the sidelines with nothing to play with?

snailoon Mon 20-Jun-11 16:26:22

The word "share" is kind of annoying. You can share an ice cream cone, or a large box of blocks, but with most toys you need to "take turns". Maybe I am quibbling, but my kids would often be willing to give someone a turn with a particular toy, but not want to "share" it.

I just saw MamaLaMoo already said this, but I will risk repeating it.

colditz Mon 20-Jun-11 18:35:07

I don't let my children just decide they aren't sharing anything. It's rude. They have certain things that must be put away if they aren't to be played with, but the last thing I want is for them to think that selfishness is acceptable. It's not.

colditz Mon 20-Jun-11 18:38:00

The thing is, you can very very quickly end up with a situation in which a small child is asking the host small child "Can I play with the train track?" and the response is "NO!". The guest small child asks why, and the reply is "Oh, I don't make Jemima share anything she doesn't want to share"....

"Oh, I see..." says Guest Mum (she doesn't) and when she leaves, she vows never ever to visit the house with the spoilt brat again, and before you know it, Jemima has no friends, and doesn't know about socially acceptable behavior.

Octaviapink Mon 20-Jun-11 18:46:10

colditz I think we're going to have to agree to disagree! I don't think it's encouraging selfishness to recognise that children may not want their precious possessions (and we all know how obsessive toddlers are about their possessions) to be wrecked by other people.

cory - had the other child asked for the playdate? If so, and he liked your DS, why didn't he want to play? I agree that I wouldn't allow one child to just be left on the sidelines - I would play with him myself! Or take both children out into the garden, or make playdough together or something (an activity is always easier for both to participate in). I would find it odd to simply sit and observe such a situation. I do think it can be resolved without riding roughshod over either child's wishes, though.

MarioandLuigi Mon 20-Jun-11 18:49:17

I think anyone who doesnt teach their children to share is doing them a diservice and they will regret it in later life. Like Colditz says, teaching them not to share will make them socially unacceptable at school.

All the toys in our house are there for everybody and anybody to play with. The only exception being DD's snuggle bunny who lives on her bed (but as its in such a well worn state I doubt anyone would actually want to go near it).

Octaviapink Mon 20-Jun-11 18:49:19

Thing is, though, I don't think it's a rule of social acceptance that you have to share your stuff. As I said before, I don't share things I don't want to - all my friends know that my books are off limits, for example. My DVDs, however, are open season. I really don't think there's some sort of moral obligation to allow others to use your stuff - to me, selfishness isn't about material possessions.

I'm finding this discussion really interesting, by the way - thank you to all those who've contributed thoughts!

Octaviapink Mon 20-Jun-11 18:51:47

MarioandLuigi I did differentiate between things owned by your child and 'public' possessions. DD knows all about taking turns on things at the childrens' centre etc and if anything errs on the side of diffidence when it comes to who gets to play with what.

scarlettsmummy2 Mon 20-Jun-11 18:54:24

octavia- are you an only child? this is exactly the same attitude as my mil and I have put it down to her not having to share as a child.

Choufleur Mon 20-Jun-11 18:54:53

I think having some things that are special is fine. Surely things that are left out are fair game to play with and guests to your house shouldn't have to ask to play with them.

Choufleur Mon 20-Jun-11 18:55:37

I'm an only scarlettsmummy2 - don't tar us all with the same brush. I share and so does DS.

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