An experience Alanya Kolberg had with her child at their local park has sparked a viral Facebook post, and much chatter about the wisdom and etiquette of sharing.
MY CHILD IS NOT REQUIRED TO SHARE WITH YOURS.As soon as we walked in the park, Carson was approached by at least 6…
Share and share alike?
Most parents and carers make a habit of encouraging kids to share from a very early age, but is it better to allow kids to make their own choices about sharing their toys, from the heart, rather than practising by ROTE? This mum certainly thinks so.
When her little boy was approached at the park by a group of kids hoping to have a turn of his toys, she suggested he make his own decision about whether he wanted to share.
“As soon as we walked in the park, Carson was approached by at least 6 boys, all at once demanding that he share his transformer, Minecraft figure, and truck,” Alanya explained.
“He was visibly overwhelmed and clutched them to his chest as the boys reached for them. He looked at me.”
At this point Alanya let her son know that it was okay NOT to share.
“You can tell them no, Carson,” I said. “Just say no. You don’t have to say anything else.”
This was good news for Carson, but not good news for the toy-desiring kids in question, as Alanya explained in her post.
“Of course, as soon as he said no, the boys ran to tattle to me that he was not sharing. I said, “He doesn’t have to share with you. He said no. If he wants to share, he will,” she said.
“That got me some dirty looks from other parents.”
Alanya fleshed this incident out further in her Facebook post, suggesting we are unwisely expecting a LOT from our kids – and that we’d never hold adults to such lofty social standards, especially with strangers.
“If I, an adult, walked into the park eating a sandwich, am I required to share my sandwich with strangers in the park? No! Would any well-mannered adult, a stranger, reach out to help themselves to my sandwich, and get huffy if I pulled it away? No again,” Alanya wrote.
She then flipped the situation, questioning whether the entitled attitude that dictates sharing as the nice-mannered default might be troublesome.
“While you’re giving me dirty looks, presumably thinking my son and I are rude, whose manners are lacking here? The person reluctant to give his 3 toys away to 6 strangers, or the 6 strangers demanding to be given something that doesn’t belong to them, even when the owner is obviously uncomfortable?”
Alanya makes it very clear that she’s against a passive default approach to sharing – and other things – and all for kids learning to make their own decisions (within reason) and discovering the natural consequences of those. Establishing boundaries, expressing needs and being self-aware are more important than being a reliable sharer, she believes.
“The goal is to teach our children how to function as adults. While I do know some adults who clearly never learned how to share as children, I know far more who don’t know how to say no to people, or how to set boundaries, or how to practice self-care. Myself included.”
Advice to snowflakes
This thought-provoking mum says her son Carson had already made a plan for sharing at the park, it just didn’t involve casting the net too wide or include kids he didn’t know.
“Carson only brought the toys to share with my friend’s little girl, who we were meeting at the park. He only didn’t want to share with the greedy boys because he was excited to surprise her with them,” she explained.
Alanya summed up with some advice to parents of ‘snowflakes’ that actually makes a lot of sense:
“The next time your snowflake runs to you, upset that another child isn’t sharing, please remember that we don’t live in a world where it’s conducive to give up everything you have to anyone just because they said so, and I’m not going to teach my kid that that’s the way it works.”
Do you think she’s got a point? Are the parents the ‘snowflakes’ here?!