Connecting moms in Polk County, Fla.
Our almost three-year-old doesn't want to share his toys and I think it's fine because when I force him to do so, it seems like the toy always ends up getting broken by the other child. Then I'm left with trying to console my son. But my friends and some of my relatives, especially my mother-in-law, says I'm wrong to promote this type of behavior and it is showing my son how to be selfish. Am I wrong in no longer making him share his toys? If so, why and what should I be doing?
When our kids had company, we would pick out a group of toys that were older or maybe that they didn't play with on a regular basis or ones that were bendable and couldn't be easily broken. Their favorite toys would be put up and therefore were out of sight. We did this until they got older and learned what sharing was all about. Try this with your son's toys. - Toni N. in Seattle, WA
Your son is still pretty young to want to share most of his toys, especially his favorites. He probably has a strong attachment to some of the ones he is most fond of and may take one or two with him everywhere he goes. In fact, depending on whether or not he has had regular interaction with other children and based on his personality, he may just now start to show interest in other kids his age. However, the more experience he gets with other children, the more interest and social skills he will learn. At this time, you don't have to force him to share his toys but you can certainly give examples on a daily basis to teach him what sharing is all about. Provide examples about sharing in your household as often as possible and use the word “share” in every teachable moment. Play games and read books about sharing.
When he has a friend coming over, ask the parents to bring some of their own child's toys and put away any of your son's toys that you know for sure he is not willing to allow other children to play with. Although it's normal for many children not to develop true empathy until around the age of six, once he starts preschool, he will learn new and exciting changes and move towards developing more empathy as he gets older and has more experiences with others. Watching how he does in a group of children will allow you to see what areas you may need to work with him on most when it comes to sharing. So, if possible, volunteer at preschool often.
Be sure as he gets older to let him to work out any differences with children he is squabbling with on his own. Don't be in a hurry to run to his rescue. You'll be surprised at how kids can work out things among themselves if given a chance, which is a very important skill to get them through life's little hiccups.
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