No, my kids don’t have to share, and no, I’m not sorry. Before we dive into this statement, know that I am not against sharing and I am not raising my kids to be selfish. There is logic to my madness, so let’s dive in.
I do not believe forcing a child to “share” their toys or snack in every situation is necessary.
I came to this realization when my youngest two kiddos were diagnosed on the autism spectrum. Try explaining to a child who views things very black and white that they need to hand over half their blocks to little Johnny just because little Johnny decided he wanted to build. It doesn’t work well. Children are learning their feelings and haven’t learned that just because they feel one way, everyone else feels that way too. After thinking about it, I didn’t see why I had been making my older kids share.
What started this, you may be wondering?
Well, it’s simple: I was tired of allowing my kids to be pushovers. If they were playing with something and another child wanted that toy, all the other child had to say was, “You have to share” and my older two kids would hand the item over no matter how long they’d had the toy. I was amazed by how many kids expected to be given exactly what they wanted when they wanted it and even more so, how many parents thought this was okay because kids should share. So I decided we weren’t going that route anymore.
I am teaching my kids healthy boundaries and how to communicate what they are feeling. I feel this goes much farther in life than traditional “sharing.” The way I see it, teaching a child to be patient and wait their turn is much healthier. Kids have to learn that just because they want something, it doesn’t mean they will get that something immediately. They have to communicate that they want to play with said object or game, and then wait their turn because let’s face it, when they are older, that’s what happens. You can’t go to a friend’s or relative’s house when they have a new game system or surround sound system, for example, and say, “I want to play, so you have to hand over control and share.”
It wouldn’t go over well and you would look ridiculous, so why do we do that with our kids?
Once we stopped forcing the sharing, we found that our kids share more easily and get along well with other kids. I attribute this to the sharing being their idea and not something they feel they HAVE to do. Kids have big emotions and sometimes sharing isn’t in the cards that day and that’s okay! If one of the kids gets up not wanting to share their things that day, does that mean they can do what they want for the day? No, but it does mean that the toys that are theirs are just that, theirs and they do not have to share. But that also means that they don’t need to play with other people’s things that day because those things don’t belong to them.
When it comes to communal property (blocks, games, etc.), they do not have to hand over half their blocks to someone that decided they wanted to build suddenly, but rather, they can finish building their project then the other person can play. Just because they don’t share and play with someone else doesn’t mean they take over the entire activity for the day. And most of the time, they end up inviting the other person to build with them once they know of the want — the difference is that it isn’t expected of them.