Sharing is caring. Or is it? Should we teach our children not to share? 

The “you don’t have to share” approach is making waves around the world and even as early as preschool. And the argument against sharing may have you rethinking what you teach your children about the importance of sharing.

In a society where adults are not required to share, how can we expect children to learn that sharing is caring?  This is the question that many parents are asking. And it is a valid concern.

Parents do not have to share their favourites toys (their iPhones, for example) or their food (no one is getting near my chocolate cake… the end). So why are we teaching children that this is required?

Why should a child have to give up her tiara because someone else wants to try it on? Why should one child miss out on the swing because another child wants to have a turn? I like my co-worker’s comfy office chair better than mine. But I don’t expect her to swap with me.

It makes little sense to teach a child to follow a value system that will not be required in their adult years.  In fact, there are already some preschools in America that have adopted the no-sharing approach.

Many parenting experts are suggesting that rather than teaching children to share, they should take a step back and let them figure out the importance of sharing and being understanding to others’ needs. Given the chance, children will learn when it is appropriate to share and when it is not. Sharing shouldn’t be done out of necessity, but out of empathy.

If a woman was freezing cold, I would offer her my jacket. But if she simply liked it, I would not. If a child does not have a lunch, then yes, sharing a sandwich is the nice thing to do. But giving your friend your cookie or your favourite toy because he is having a tantrum… this just doesn’t seem right.

Let’s take a closer look, shall we? While our society does seem selfish, there are several instances where sharing is not only required, but part of the norm. For example, you are expected to bring a plate to share when attending a BBQ. It is socially acceptable to share your tea and coffee when a friend comes for a visit. And we have to share the road with pedestrians, bikers and other drivers every day.

Sharing is situational. Thus teaching children the basic concept of sharing and what kind of sharing is socially expected can help them determine when to use this skill down the road.

What do you think? Is situational sharing a lesson that children will learn on their own? Should we hop off the ‘sharing is caring’ train?  Or perhaps we should be leading by example more often and sharing our chocolate cake with the whole family?

Pfft. Just kidding.

(via The Conversation)


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