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OK, do you make your kids share?

784 Views 25 Replies 17 Participants Last post by  Marsupialmom
The other "do you make" threads have me wondering. Many seem worried about children learning social standards or manners and using them actively.

What about sharing though? IMO sharing is something of a child's issue since adults don't share as much as we expect children to. Nobody walks up and takes a bite of our food. Nobody picks up the book next to us and starts reading it. Nobody hops in our car assuming we'll share it. Instead in the adults social structure you ask before using, and accept no if it is no.

And yet I see many (if not most) parents force children to share. Do you? Why or why not?
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Adding- You might guess by now that I do not force my kids to share. My DD's can't follow each other around saying "mine" but if they are actively using blocks they are not required to share with their sibling unless they want to. I encourage it by praising when they do choose to like saying "wow, sister looks so happy that you chose to share your blocks with her!" It is a choice though, just like I have a choice if someone asks to borrow my car.
I encourage my children to share with their siblings, or ask the older ones to go play in their room if they don't want the baby to keep interrupting their play. If we have other children over to play however I do ask them to share their toys, but they have the option to put anything they don''t want to share away & out of sight. Otherwise it is fair game. We have had this policy for sometime, so my kids are quite used to this. (FYI my children are 7, 6, 3, & 1 yrs old)
well, yeah- when playgroup is at our house the toys are to share- and we put up things they don't want to share. I guess I mean- if your child takes a bucket to the playground sandbox for playgroup do you make them share it with the other kids?

Or if other kids come over and your child is sitting alone playing blocks and another child comes up to them and starts playing- do you tell them to share or let them play the blocks alone if they want to?

I realize when kids come over they can't really choose not to share ALL their toys- but do you give them choice over the one toy they are actively playing with? If another child comes up and takes over do you tell your child they have to share or do you ask the other child if they can have it back?
I don't force sharing in the way you describe. I encourage my boys (2 & 5) to say, "when you're finished, can I have a turn with that?" If necessary, I help them find something else to do/play with while they're waiting. Usually the "turn" isn't very long - especially since the alternate activity I suggest to the "wanter" often looks appealing to the "wantee"!

It doesn't always work, but I agree that I don't want to ask my kids to give up something they're actively using. Sometimes I've asked my older ds to do so just to keep the peace, but the little one is getting better at understanding turn-taking.

If ds had brought a sand bucket to the park and wasn't using it, he would probably be fine with other kids using it. If he wasn't, I'd probably just tell the other kid, "sorry, this is special to him" and put it away in the stroller.
Well, forcing my DC to do anything has proved to be a disastrous way of disciplining her. So, no, I don't force DC to share. In most cases I encourage sharing and if that doesn't work I take the toy from both children after a warning.

DC does share quite well though. The way that she learns to share is mostly because we model it at home. We also play games about sharing. But, I guess she and her friends also learn to share because I'll take it if they're fighting over it. I do always allow all children to have a "special" thing that they absolutely don't want to share but it has to be put in a "special place".
Depends on the situation. No siblings yet, so couldn't comment on that.

If we're at the playground and another kid wants to use ds's toys, I ask ds if he wants to share. Usually he is fine with it, but if not, then I would just tell the other kid that ds is using them right now.

If we're part of a playground, then I am more forceful about encouraging sharing. I won't tear something out of ds's hands and force him to give it up, but I will explain that the toys are for everyone to play with, and that we need to take turns, etc. etc. Again, ds is usually pretty reasonable about it, so it's not usually become a huge issue.

If the playgroup is at our house and ds starts saying "mine", I will agree with him that yes, it is his toy, but so and so is playing with it right now and will give it back when he is done.
I'm just curious those of you wo don't expect your child to share, then you don't expect other children to share with your child either, right? It's actually a question just worded wrong. I met a mama at a playgroup who openly stated her child does not having to share. So he's sitting there hording lke 7 toys of course he can't play with all seven but he would scream and kicka nd cry if another child tried to get one he was playing with. He's almost three but his mother simply says let him be she feels he's too young to have to share. BUT...if one of the other kids has a toy he wants he will go and snatch it away and or fall out and cry if he can't have it then the mother will be like, "well I think you guys shold share that toy" ??? I don't get that and haven't went back there. What do you think?
Oh and yes, I do make my children share toys with each other and other kids. I think it's unfair for one child to hord a bunch of toys just because they want to. It hink sharing is importent in developing an unselfish personality. I had a cousin who's mother felt she didn't have to share anything with anyone if it was hers and if she's able to take it then it's hers here she is at the age of 27 witha mine, mine mine attitude to this day.
Jeca, I think that is crazy and not doing the little boy any favors. Ds will be 3 in August and he can understand sharing just fine.

We do not force to share.

Playgroup in our home--- you put away unsharables first. You don't have to put it away if it is something that you can keep on you at all times or is very special to you.

If we take things to a park/playground any child is welcome to use them if my children are not.

I do not believe in taking things from children or even giving a time limit (though DD & DS do that on their own, they have obviously been exposed to it a lot since it is quite popular among friends). But, I also do not allow hording and if there is obviously more toys than the child is using (or will be using) sharing is more than encouraged (we have probably 2000 legos, I would not condone notsharing the legos (though specific pieces and location is fine)).

We constantly are taking things to Good Will & the like, so the kids really have it ingrainded that if you don't need/want something, someone else probably does.
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No, I wouldn't let ds just horde a bunch of toys and refuse to share. But to be honest, I've never been faced with that situation. When I gave the playground example, I'm talking about ds having a bucket, a shovel, and a sifter, and a kid is asking to play with one. In that instance, I don't make him give something up if he doesn't want to (assuming the toys are ours - if they belong to the playground, then I ask him to take turns). But no, I wouldn't let him horde all the toys to himself.
ITA oceanbaby.

At this point if we bring sand toys we bring: 6 shovel/rake things, two buckets, 4 molds & two castle making things. I just don't want to deal w/it, kwim?
Jeca, our system is the same for all children but answering your question doesn't really address the issue that you're having at your play group. I honestly don't know how I would deal with that situation because, although we don't force sharing, we've had very few problems. I don't believe that forced sharing necessarily guarantees inner moral standards later in life. I think it's safe to say that your cousin isn't a selfish person just because her mother didn't force her to share. Generally, I think sharing can be expected during the time that the child develops empathy, which comes a little later than toddlerhood from what I've read. Before that, modeling behavior is one of the absolute best ways to encourage positive moral behavior. I would never grab a toy from my child or forcibly make her share because that is not something that I wish to model.

We absolutely encourage sharing and we should not be confused with people who don't care. I would not allow my child to behave the way you described your friend. If DC was behaving like the child in your group it would be a sign that she wasn't ready to be there ~ not an indication that she needed to be forced to share. We would go home or change activities. Luckily, she is very adaptable and generally eager to please so we've never had to do that.

That said, we do "obey" the rules of groups or in other people's houses but most of our friends do things the same way that we do. But, if sharing was being taught in a different way we would do our best to cooperate and learn from that method.
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If we are at the park by ourselves (I mean not with friends or playgroup) and DD brings her own toys, than I don't force her to share. In fact, I don't mind if someone takes her toys and she takes them back. I figure they are hers, and others should ask before they use. This is if this is a clear situation where we are at the park ourselves, they are HER toys and we aren't with friends or meeting anyone.

Now, if we are at the park with friends, and they are part of our playgroup, than I do encourage sharing. If the toys are "public" or "playgroup" property, than I do help her share. For example, if we are at playgroup at someone's house, than she needs to share or at our house (but we rarely have people over to play here). If we are the park, she needs to share the slide and swings, etc., etc.
ok, hoarding a bunch of toys as theirs and not sharing is different than what I'm seeing. I'm seeing moms say "we have to share" after a child takes a toy that their child was actively playing with. Or being angry at me because I don't tell my child they have to share when another wants to share a toy they are actively playing with. I always bring extra scoopers and diggers for the sand box, but somehow it is never enough.

I do not expect others to share with my DD and thankfully either does she. Having a choice over what to share really only applies to what my children are actively playing with. I can't think of any instances where my child wouldn't share something she wasn't playing with. if she decides she wants it back while another child is playing with it we ask the other child if she can use it when they are done and we busy ourselves with something nearby while waiting. It always seems to work out fine.

The onyl problem we've had is with other mothers thinking I'm horrible for not making her share toys she is actively involved in. They say I shouldn't let her bring a toy she isn't willing to share. The thing is she is more that willing to share once she is done.

ITA with tiredX2
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Jeca, ITA! We had a similar experience at the park with a boy who was about 4 (my son is 2 1/2), who was not only monopolizing the slide by throwing his trucks up, then down it, one by one (he had about 40 of them!), but would not share. His fairly disinterested mom who was reading a magazine nearby asked him to share, but then went back to her magazine when he refused, and did not physically involve herself. Meanwhile, my son is standing there watching him, politely drooling over all the shiny trucks, and telling me he wants to play with them! So, I tried to redirect him several times, while the little
gives us a self-important grin
: !

The unfortunate part of this story is that my son did not, as I hoped he would, internalize the moral lesson, which is that you should share your toys, so that another kid doesn't feel the way he felt that day! But, I guess that's a little much to expect from a 2 yr. old. We have been working on the sharing thing, and some days he's really good about it, and some days he's not. But, he is an only child, so 90% of the time his toys are all his. I guess it's just something that you need to consistently work on with them.
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The often-quoted rule among my friends and their children is "we don't take." It is never okay to take a toy from another child who is using it. If one childs attempts to take a toy from another child, we remind them "we don't take" and explain that the other child is having a turn with that toy right now. We then offer to help the child find another activity to do while they wait for their turn, or offer support while they deal with their disappointment and frustration. I've started using this in our church nursery each week too, since I'm one of the leaders, and usually it works just fine. We don't allow hoarding, though -- a child has to actively be using the toy for us to consider it their turn.
When it come to something that the child is activily playing with then we encourage 'taking turns' - ie Ethan is having a turn with this toy, when he is done you can have a turn for now lets play with this. This works pretty well in almost all situations.

For toys at home I am trying to have a house rule that if it is in the play area then it is for anyone to play with - if it is in your room then it is yours alone. DS has a tendeceny to want to claim all the toys as 'his' and not allow DD to play with them at all....we are working on this. Same with playgroup - we put away those toys we are not willing to share and everything else is open for all to play with. We also take toys to the pool with the knowledge that we are taking them for everyone to play with. As long as each child has a toy the others are up for whoever wants to play with them. THere has been occassion that kids have had the toys and DD or DS has not had any and in that case we do ask for them back because they are indeed 'ours' but usually we have no problems with this.
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I encourage my kids to share, but I don't force it. Like other moms on this list, I do have my kids put up something they don't want to share before kids come over, and everything they keep down is fair game (of course as long as someone else isn't using it). I encourage them to take turns, and I don't bring toys to the park to avoid sharing conflicts. I also have the "don't take things from others" rule, but you can ask, offer to trade, both use it, or come get my help. However, I do set a lot of things up so they need to share. Like I will set out one big plate of fruit for everyone, or I will buy one smoothie drink for my kids to pass back and forth in the car. They do this very well without conflicts. I also have it set up at our house that all the toys belong to both kids, so nothing is "mine". As a family we share everything, (we share the food off our plates, I wear dh's clothes, dh uses my knife, my kids wear my scarves and jewelry) so it works for us.

Originally Posted by Rainbow
ok, hoarding a bunch of toys as theirs and not sharing is different than what I'm seeing. I'm seeing moms say "we have to share" after a child takes a toy that their child was actively playing with. Or being angry at me because I don't tell my child they have to share when another wants to share a toy they are actively playing with. [/b]
I see this a good bit. IMO, forcing children to share doesn't teach them the value of sharing, it makes them resent sharing. It's always seemed to me that the children with the biggest "mine!" issue are the children who are always forced to share (especially when it's way too early of an age for them to even get the concept of sharing). I've never forced ds to share anything (though I do ask him if he would like to - just so he knows it's an option) and he shares often of his own free will.

One thing I do with ds that, I think, really does encourage sharing (though indirectly) is to enlist his help in finding something else for the other child to play with. If we're at the playground and another child wants the shovel he's playing with, I let the child know that ds is playing with it right now and then ask ds if he can help me to find the child another shovel. There's usually one laying right there or close by and he happily picks it up and hands it to the other child. That usually solves the issue better than if I hand the child something else to play with.

The one "negative" of having a child who shares readily is that he does usually expect that other children will always want to share with him. He gets his feelings hurt when they don't, though less and less over time. I wish other children *would* share with him, but I don't expect it and I don't encourage it. I sometimes suggest to him that the child might be willing to trade with him if he offers something, but I also let him know that he/she might not and if that's the case then he'll need to wait until that child is finished.

Btw, Rainbow, I really liked the analogies to adult behavior that you presented. I had never thought about it that way, but it really makes forced sharing seem all the more wrong to me. I definitely wouldn't appreciate it if someone just walked up and took a bite out of my food. :LOL
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