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Ever seen children tugging at the same toy even though they both have a dozen other options? It generally ends with one howling child, while the other, having received the toy from an intervening guardian, crows over him. While this seems like a common occurrence, have you stopped to think what such forced sharing is doing for your child?
As parents, we teach our children the importance of sharing from early childhood. In the process of getting it right we sometimes force our children to share with other children. However, this is not the right way of teaching children to share. In fact, recent studies show that this might be one of the biggest parenting mistakes we are making unconsciously.
Why Forced Sharing Can Do More Harm Than Good
1. Kids start Throwing Frequent Temper Tantrums
Your child has watched and understood that if he shouts and wails and brings the whole place down, he’s in a better position to get his object of desire even if someone else has it. So that’s what he starts doing – upsetting his parents whenever he’s asked to share his toy!
2. Parents start Looking like Whimsical Dictators
A small child is possessive about his things- his parents, his toys and his whole world. When he sees his parents chiding him for not sharing with a friend or sibling, he feels hurt and not in control. To makes matters worse, he might even think that his parents take sides. He just complies out of fear of punishment; he doesn’t actually learn to share.
3. You unknowingly Encourage Sibling Rivalry
An unwilling child might even hate his siblings for being forced to share his playthings as per guidance from parents/elders. These negative feelings can remain embedded in a child’s impressionable mind and create unhealthy relationship issues later.
4. Children become Greedy for Material Things
A child who’s being constantly picked up for not sharing gets the wrong message that he’s greedy. He opposes and cribs and makes all effort to hold onto his favourite video game before grudgingly handing it over to his sibling. It’s natural for children to be possessive, but being scolded for not sharing gives them a negative perception of themselves.
5. There’s also a Loss in Concentration Levels
A child learns a lot while playing. Some children may play for a few minutes while some for a few hours. Taking away a toy in the middle of an activity not only breaks his attention but it also destroys his power of imagination.
- Encourage your child to play games that require multiple players. Blocks, large drawing sheets and doll-sets are ideal for this purpose.
- Be a role model for your child. Share chores with your husband. Share the big bag of goodies you got from the market with the other kids in the building. Watching you share will be a big reason for your child to start doing the same.
- You can set some guidelines and timelines for sharing. For example, tell your kids to share his toys and books with the other children in his play-date. It is good manners to do so. Also tell him that sharing multiplies joy as other kids can join in the fun he’s having.