Is Sharing Always Caring? 5 Things I Won't Make My Toddler Share
Is sharing really always caring? Forcing your toddler to share might backfire. Here are 5 things I won't make my child to share.
I used to force my toddler to share everything. I wanted to raise a generous and kind child, one also conscience of other people’s needs, and thought that sharing was the way to do that. So if a toddler friend wanted something in her possession, I forced my daughter to share it simply off principle. I quickly realized that by forcing her to share everything, I was raising a child unwilling to compromise. She would look up at me in disbelief, as though I had just betrayed her loyalty. By sharing everything, my sensitive toddler became highly resistant to even engaging other kids, for fear that her most treasured objects would be lost to other toddler hands forever. Eventually, I stopped forcing her to share, instead promoting team work and making good choices, and saw an immediate change in her willingness to compromise.
These are the five things I won’t make my toddler share:
- Sippy Cup: As a source of nourishment, a toddler’s sippy cup is pretty important. My toddler learned quickly that once the contents of the sippy cup were gone, it was useless. I’m actually shocked at how many parents think it’s appropriate for toddlers to share sippy cups (isn’t that kind of gross?), so this one was easy for me to uphold. No sharing sippy cups.
- Favorite Doll: As close as family can get, my daughter adored her collection of favorite dolls. At first I made her share them always, but eventually granted one doll pardon. This doll stayed in the car during storytime and playdates, to avoid potential confrontation, but otherwise it was off limits for others. I felt uncomfortable saying to other kids and parents, “I’m sorry, we don’t share this doll”. But by protecting her beloved toy, I watched as my daughter’s anxiety over sharing her toys diminish.
- Sleep Aids: Things that help a child drift into dreamland shouldn’t have to be shared. Sleep aids, like blankies or pacifiers, represent an intimate moment of a toddler’s day. Toddlers innately want what others have, but when it comes to sleep aids, it’s best if you model restraint. By not sharing sleep aids, you model to your child the value you hold on sleep.
- Their personal space: I hope it’s not just my toddler that holds her personal space in high regard. Unless she is familiar with you, sharing her personal space is not high on her agenda – regardless if you’re a kid or adult. Instead of shoving her along at a typical toddler pace, we waited till groups had passed or a line got smaller. Not having to share her personal space, but still engaging in group activities, was a happy medium for all of us.
- My attention, at least not always: Now, at three years old with a brother running a muck, my once sensitive daughter is a great sharer. I think that has to do with, in large part, knowing that she doesn’t have to always share my attention. To combat selfishness and unwillingness to compromise, I try my best to give her my unshared attention on a regular basis.
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