Children are expected to share, is this fair?
As adults, do we really share, especially when we are using what we are requested to share, a car, a guitar, a bike? Would you willingly share something that is very precious to you? Would you ask someone to share theirs?
There are degrees and different levels of sharing, sharing a pizza is more acceptable than sharing an ice-cream cone. Sharing a bag of sweets is expected, sharing a toothbrush is not. What about a precious item, a sentimental item, do we demand sharing?
A young child considers everything he owns, something that is really his, as important as your precious and sentimental item, would you share? It may be as difficult for the child as it would be for you.
We know that in a Montessori classroom a child is free to choose their work from a prepared environment, this work is placed on a mat or table and it is that child’s until he signals he has finished with it by replacing it in its spot, only then can another child use it.
Should another child want the same work she can ask to to it together, if the answer is “No” the decision is accepted and the child waits for the work to be available.
At home this can be a challenge between siblings and friends. If a toddler does not want to share it is not because she is naughty or mean, just not comfortable sharing yet. An adult voice this observation “I see you don’t want to share your teddy with Sara, maybe you will feel you can share teddy with Sara after you’ve played with it?” A child will feel a lot less pressure to share and will share naturally and willingly.
I do believe that a child, of any age, who is made to share regardless of their feelings will become more and more possessive and less willing to share, a situation which may quickly develop into a power struggle between siblings and friends.
Sharing when one is ready to is great, but not wanting to share, adult or a child is also a decision that deserves respect.
Empower the Child.