Recently, I attended a play date with my toddler. I was chatting with another mom when I noticed my son go for a toy that was not being played with. Suddenly, I heard another mother I don’t know well say, “Honey, that’s not yours and we’re not sharing today.” My inner mama bear went nuts, but I dug deep for social skills and ushered my confused son to another area.
When did it become optional to share?
I calmed myself (or rather my best friend did on the phone in the car) as I lamented about the nerve of that mother. Don’t get me wrong, sharing to me is NOT when your kid has to give up his/her toy just because my kid wants it. It is not a free for all. Turns and respect are important. I don’t want to raise a bully or a doormat. This is also not to say that children cannot have special things that are just theirs, say a security blanket or bear. But if it’s that special, leave it at home.
I believe that when friends come over, when we play at the park, when we attend play dates, what we bring is fair game to anyone. I as the (in theory) adult with a fully developed frontal lobe, am the one who mediates disputes. If my child (or yours) is actively playing with a toy, it’s his or her turn for a reasonable amount of time such as few minutes. Phone timers are great for this. Then it’s time to share. And abandoned toys are always fair game. Once it hits the floor, its no longer yours.
This is so challenging because sharing kind of sucks.
We all have an innate desire to be selfish. Young children show us outwardly behavior that can be taboo as an adult, but is usually hiding just below the surface. I believe it’s in these formative years where we have a responsibility to teach the difference between self-care and selfishness. I know these moments have made me take a hard look at myself and I have often not been impressed with my own selfish tendencies. Oh the joys of parenting!
I get frustrated when I hear so many complaints about the entitlement of millennials since I am, after all, a member of that group. But what are we actively doing to combat that stereotype? My children are amazing little people and the apples of mine and my husband’s eyes. They are God’s gift to us and I want them to show their gifts to the world. Not expect gifts from the world.
We are in an age now where academic environments start in school immediately after potty training. Where play is looked down upon compared to worksheets to “get ahead” and “excel”. As parents, in my humble opinion, our main job is to raise good, kind humans who have something to offer in this world, and that may start at a play date. We are doing themselves and our future a massive disservice by downplaying kindness and basic social skills through play.
After all, sharing is caring.