Sharing is a concept adults force onto children because we believe it is essential for raising “good” people. However it is a double standard. As an adult, I wouldn’t share my personal mobile phone with you, or my car, or my clothes, for that matter there’s not much I’d share with you!
Forced sharing demonstrates the item in question never truly belonged to the person. In the real world, owners have full control over who uses their property.
Sharing space is good enough for us!
Children aren’t permitted to attach feelings of ownership to their belongings even if they’re the only things in the world they believe is theirs to control and cherish. This is because we adults expect children to share unbiasedly, acting as if their belonging is a loan item rather than their personal property.
Apparently this is acceptable because someone at some stage decided this “teaches” children good social skills and politeness, and convinced society that’s how it all works.
Does this mean as adults we aren’t polite?
That we’re rude? What does it say about us that we force little people to share but refuse to do it ourselves?
It’s a sure indicator of one of the many double standards we have between adults and children.
The view that children aren’t as important as adults, and therefore aren’t entitled to the same feelings and respect as adults are simply because of their age.
For anyone who can be honest with themselves, it is obvious children aren’t really seen as people and are seen as less than people. We expect things of them we would never expect of ourselves or other adults, even though we are the ones capable of understanding when they’re not.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
What does forcing a child to share actually teach them?
Children learn they don’t count, that their valued personal belongings aren’t important and the needs and wants of another person are more important than their own.
It is a snowball effect which can lead into adulthood. Most adults have an unhealthy dynamic of putting others needs above their own, for that’s what we are taught from a very young age. We may not share our personal goods but we tend to over-share ourselves. It is is far more important to cherish ourselves than material belongings.
What can we do instead?
Teach children they count by protecting their right to continue to play with the desired item, instead of forcing them to share. Facilitate patience in others with reminders of “No, wait your turn”. Explain the child with the belonging isn’t done playing with it yet, but as soon as they’re finished they will probably share. Explain it’s OK to want what others have, and it’s not OK to take what others have when they’re using it.
Being protective over belongings isn’t a bad thing - many adults do this. We are modelling protective behaviours, so don’t seem shocked when our children are fiercely protective too.
Let children decide for themselves if they want to share, and respect their decision. Do not coerce and manipulate children into changing their minds. Let them know they’re people too and their needs and wants count.
Share on facebook... because you weren't forced to :D
This is the most ridiculous article i have ever read. Comparing it to adults not sharing their phones and etc is absurd. Teaching a child to play nicely and share their toys and take turns is a completely normal part of parenting
This is hippy parenting gone mad. No wonder we have the generation of lazy selfish disrespectful kids nowadays if parents who read too much listen to this nonsense.
It sounds like you're very confronted by this idea, where do you think that's stemming from?
The idea that children need to be "taught" how to share is from the school of thought that children are born either bad or tabu rasa (blank slates) and that they aren't capable of becoming good people without guidance, is this something that you feel perhaps you believe? Children want to be good, you can see that from infant hood where an infant tries to forcefully share their food with others. Were they taught to shove food into other peoples faces? No. Well I hope not! It's something they want to do. I'm not saying stop your children from sharing, I'm suggesting that we let children take control of their interactions themselves.
Perhaps forcing children to share is where the selfishness comes from in adults? Maybe they got sick of having no control so when they finally are able to make their own decisions they're prone to becoming more selfish?