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Children sharing – this is an interesting topic and one I have a few thoughts about.

Children Sharing

First of all, I do believe that children need to learn to share, but I also think that children sharing can be taken to such ridiculous lengths it can end up doing no good at all – even ‘damaging’ a child in some circumstances.

So, What do I Mean by That?

  • You’ve just taken procession of a new, long awaited car.  Just as you’re about to drive out of the car dealership, a good mate turns up and asks if he can drive it.  Well, do you let him?
  • You’ve just downloaded (legally of course) your favourite songs onto your new iPod.  A girlfriend calls around and asks if she can use the iPod for the afternoon.  Well, can she?
  • It’s your daughter’s birthday and she’s thrilled with the new baby doll you’ve bought her.  Her party friends want to play with it.  Well, do you make her let them?

Over the years I’ve been to children’s parties where the birthday boy or girl has ended up in tears and in some cases been sent to their rooms because they didn’t want their friends to play with their new toys.  Yet, are their new toys any different from ours?  Our toys might cost more, but I don’t believe kids’ toys are any less precious or valuable in their eyes.

Children Sharing

Most mates would know not to ask to drive a friend’s new car (at least not before the friend had driven it) and I doubt a girlfriend would ask to use a friend’s new iPod on day one.  But children don’t necessarily know when it’s appropriate and not appropriate to ask to share.  We should encourage our children to share, but also teach them when it’s appropriate to ask to share.  Once the initial excitement and newness has worn off, a child will be more enthusiastic about sharing – just as we are with our new ‘toys’.

Children Learn by Example

Every time you have friends around for coffee or dinner you are sharing.  A neighbour loans your lawn mower.  You borrow a friend’s video camera.  A friend borrows your car to drive to the airport.  You’ve borrowed books and DVD’s (and returned them of course).  Neighbours are invited to use your pool on a hot day.  Your child borrows your clothes for dress up.

As children grow, if they see see sharing as being part of everyday life, they will likely be happy to make it a part of their life too.

What are your thoughts on children sharing?

I look forward to reading your comments below.  Thank you for reading another Raising Great Kids blog.

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Jan Littlehales

12 Responses to “Children Sharing – Raising Great Kids”

  1. Agree that it is an important skill to learn, sharing. I learned from experience, however, not to loan things out. I’ve had things damaged or not returned at all so many times. I am happy to let them use it at my house, but will not let them take it home unless I don’t care if I get it back or not.

  2. Carolyn says:

    It certainly is a challenging topic you’ve raised here, and like many things, it is finding the right balance…not always easy to do, especially when the balance keeps changing. We have so much to teach our children and a lot of it isn’t black and white. Another reason why we need to talk with our children and not just tell them what to do and not to do.

    An interesting quote… “It is more honorable to give than to lend, and it costs about the same.”

    An excellent and thought provoking post.

  3. Bev says:

    Totally agree with you about children sharing.
    I think that some people take the “sharing” thing way too seriously! I have always defended my children’s rights to not share and they have always been allowed to have one or two most precious possessions that they do not have to share with anyone – not even siblings.

    In a school setting or in areas where there are other children, my children are expected to share, but their special possessions are kept away in their room, just for them to have and use – out of sight, out of mind.

    I think that this teaches children that in most social settings items are shared, but if they have something they value highly, they can choose to share or not share.

    In my home there is respect for others possessions and all of my children would never think of taking or using something without asking first.

    By showing respect for the each child and their precious treasures and knowing how much they value their favorite things is the key.

    I have never had a problem with my children and sharing issues, they all share beautifully and are incredibly generous with sharing with siblings and their friends.

  4. Lisa Wood says:

    Hello Jan,

    You bring up some interesting thoughts here about Children Sharing…as a young child I had my brothers tag on behind me when ever I wanted to go out. Not that I minded, but some time to myself would have been nice!! I try to teach my boys to share, but sometimes they have to learn that a certain toy/or book is not for sharing!!
    Love how you look at how grown ups behave compared to children :)

  5. Hi Jan,I think it is important that kids see an example of sharing when they are young, and there are certainly rimes where a child must not be allowed to share, these values should be taught by the parent.

  6. I really think teaching children sharing is an extension to teaching them manners and to be aware of others. Like everything in life there needs to be balance and context applied. ie, being completely selfless all the time will position yourself as being a push over, whereas not sharing enough will position yourself as being stingy.

  7. We have a rule at our house, if the toy is brand new, you don’t have to share it for a while. Something that I have recently seen at children’s parties is that they open their gifts after everyone leaves. Food for thought.

  8. Thanks for dropping by Jean,
    I like your new toy rule :) …and opening presents after the guests leave is the best option. We always did that at my boys’ parties.

  9. Larissa says:

    You have raised some really great points, as adults we certainly don’t share all the time! It is also important to realise that children really have great difficulty with the concept of sharing before about 5 yrs (I am kindy teacher and mum of 4, so I have had lots of opportunities to observe), it is just not developmentally appropriate…and yet we all expect our kids to share with their siblings -I know I do anyway!
    When my kids have friends over I encourage them to choose in advance what toys they are happy sharing & we put the others safely away til the friend has left (this seems to work really well with 3 & 4 year olds :)

  10. Hi Larissa,
    Great idea to encourage your kids to choose in advance which toys they are happy sharing… and I agree with your comment that young children have difficulty understanding the concept of sharing. As a kindy teacher you’d witness that almost every day, I’m sure.
    Thanks for dropping by – and my apologies for not replying sooner – I’ve just returned from holiday :)

  11. edgar says:

    Sharing indeed is a value every child needs to embed in his or her character and it is a responsibility of a parent to do so. The question however is when do you start teaching it? At what age and how? I have an 11 month old daughter and these are the things that I’m beginning to consider now.
    Certainly there should be parameters and certain limitations that must be considered as well.
    I agree with what Carolyn has said about finding the right balance. Sometimes a problem arises when another child who borrowed something from our child happens to destroy it or not to return it. Our child will have negative associations with sharing. How do you go around it? Grown ups struggle with that too.

  12. Hi Edgar,
    Thanks for dropping by and commenting on this blog.
    As I’ve got older – and maybe a bit wiser :) – I’ve learnt that it’s ok to say ‘no’ to people and I don’t feel guilty about it.
    I don’t think our children should feel guilty about saying “no, you can’t borrow my toys today”. But children should also feel good about sharing on other occasions. Like you say, Carolyn’s comment about finding the right balance is about right.

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