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Let’s be honest. Has it ever happened to you that while teaching your toddler that important lesson on how she MUST share everything with others you have found yourself cringing inside?
Okay, I’ll give you a scenario. A couple of months ago at my daughter’s birthday party, a little girl fascinated by my daughter’s water sipper insisted on having water from it all evening. Naturally, it was enough to send my daughter in a tizzy.
I tried to be polite while explaining to my daughter that she must let the little kid have her way, as she was our guest. But inside I hoped that the baby’s parents would tell her that sharing everything may not be a good idea not just for hygiene issues but also because somewhere we need to draw the line on sharing etiquette.
And while we had a ball of a time the rest of the evening, dancing and playing with the kids I also had a bit of a struggle as our little guest now also wanted to cut my daughter’s cake before her. Perplexed, I sat like a mama hawk guarding the birthday girl’s cake till she cut it and then invited the other toddler to come cut the cake too. All throughout I grinned to be polite while calming my girl.
That evening I learned two lessons -- one, that we must teach kids to share and play with each other but more importantly, sometimes we also need to teach kids to go ahead and say no to things that may upset their little universe.
So, a few weeks ago when I came across a mom’s Facebook post on sharing that had gone viral on the Internet, I knew that we must address this uncomfortable topic.
Alanya Kolberg, a mom from Missouri, US, wrote a lengthy post on how she told her toddler boy in the playground to just say no to other kids who came running after his toys. She felt that just like adults, kids too have a right to decide what they may not share with others.
While this mom’s rather radical approach drew dirty glances from other parents present there, her Facebook post literally broke the Internet with thousands and thousands of parents also admiring her approach. The few weeks old post has been shared 240, 807 times and was liked by 279,000 people.
The reaction just highlights the fact that while as parents we all strive to teach our kids to be nice, kind and caring but sometimes we also need to respect their wishes. Sharing is caring, but when someone insists on sharing, crossing the limits of etiquette and emotions may be we must train our kids to also assert themselves where they are right.
If you too are torn between how to strike that delicate balance and teach your kid to share but only within their threshold then these few tips may help you.
So, your child has a favourite toy and another toddler wants to play with the very same toy? Most toddlers develop a certain inseparable affinity with a toy, book or a blanket that they can’t bear to part with.
Instead of just telling your child to share their toy without giving them any explanation, how about saying: ''hey that’s your favourite toy do you wanna show it to your friend how special it is?'' This way you have stressed the importance of that toy to your baby while alleviating their fears that it may be taken away from them.
How often it happens, that you just bought your baby a brand new toy and their friends want to play with the new toy even before your child had a chance to have her fill with it. Instead of just passing on the new toy to the child asking for it you need to handle the situation smartly.
Before your child gets into a meltdown mode telling her, hey, how about we give your friend your other toy instead. So that both of you can be happy? This approach will not only send a signal to other parents (if present) that your child is not yet ready to share their new acquisition it will also distract the other kids without being rude.
Another smart strategy to teach kids to share without hurting their emotions is to carry an extra toy or a stuffed animal with you in a bag.
Next time, when your child is playing with their toy and another child approaches them just hand over the spare toy to your kid and tell them hey do you want to give this toy to the other baby so that he can play too? By doing this you have inculcated an important lesson on giving without making your baby feel that someone snatched his or her possession.
Very often, we are stuck in a situation where we know that the other child is being unfair in demanding something from your kid. But we do continue to chide our babies just to be polite to other parents. While being polite is always a virtue if you feel the other parents aren’t stepping in where they should, try involving them cleverly.
Tell the other children, okay baby you can get the toy as long as you promise your mama that you will return it your friend in two minutes. It may sound discomforting to you but can serve as an effective way of drawing the attention where it is due.
If you too had a difficult sharing situation with your child where you grinned and bore it to be polite, how about sharing it with us?
Write to us with your story.
Also Read: 6 questions Indian parents should STOP asking their toddlers now
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Zofeen Maqsood is a lifestyle journalist who has worked with some of the biggest Indian newspapers. She is currently based in Chicago, where she continues to write extensively.
When she's not struggling to balance work and parenthood she loves to notice how the differences in American and Asian parenting styles often result in strikingly similar experiences.
Baby (6-12 month) Better parenting Family Life Kids (4-9 years) Parenting Advice Positive Parenting Relationships Toddler