Think about the last time you toddler had something another child wanted, or wanted something that another child was playing with. What did you say to your child? Did you tell them to share?
Before we stopped sharing toys, the conversations I had with Leila, when a child wanted the toy she was currently playing with, went something like this:
Leila, you need to share your shovel.
When you're done give it to the boy. We share.
When I finally realized what I was saying, I realized I was actually asking her to take turns, not share her shovel. I didn't expect her to give up the shovel immediately just because another kid wanted to use it. I wouldn't give up my parking spot just because someone else wanted it. They'd have to wait until I was finished with my turn.
Sounds like simple semantics, right? Sharing vs. turn taking. But there is a difference. Heather Shumaker, author of It’s OK Not to Share…And Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids (Tarcher/ Penguin, 2012) wrote a must-read guest post on the Positive Parenting Solutions blog that confirmed what I was witnessing.
I noticed when I used this different terminology with Leila she got it. She started taking turns, even without me making a big deal out of it.
|Taking her turn with the bucket.|
So, do we share anything? Yes. We share our snack because we both can have some. We share our crayons because there is enough for everyone to have one to use. We can even share play-dough by breaking off a piece of our and giving it to a friend.
But most of the time we take turns. We use something as long as we want it, and when we are finished, someone else can have their turn. If she wants something, she waits her turn. Turn-taking teaches positive assertiveness and patience, two life skills not all adults have.
So go ahead, stop making your kid share their toys, take turns instead! You'll be doing everyone a favor.