When it comes to kids, sharing is a fundamental lesson most parents strive to teach throughout the early years. But when it comes to siblings, it can be easy to go overboard and force them to share everything. While sharing with siblings is certainly important, having some items that you call your own is equally important and helps foster feelings of ownership, responsibility and self-esteem. If your siblings seem to be constantly fighting over toys or clothes, here’s some important points worth considering.
Mine, yours and ours is a real-world concept. In the real-world, it’s no secret that you don’t have to share everything. While of course it’s important to raise kind and empathetic children who can recognize needs and have a willingness to meet them, setting children up to believe that everyone has to share everything with them all of the time will only lead to disappointment.
Responsibility is taught through having your own things. Think about your most prized possession. Is it tossed on the floor or is it packed away neatly, protected from the elements and preserved to maintain its value? When you have something that is yours, it becomes valued and treasured. When children have a treasured toy that they don’t have to share, they learn to care for it properly and take responsibility for it.
Children feel good when they are able to take care of their own things. Consider the sense of pride you feel when you’re house is sparkling clean. It feels good to know that you take care of your things and keep them in good form. Children experience the same satisfaction when they’re proven to be capable of caring for their treasured items.
Having special things you don’t have to share increases the ease of sharing other things. If you know that your most favorite items are not required to be shared, it becomes a little easier to share those other items that aren’t so precious. Sometimes it doesn’t even matter what a child has to call his own, the mere fact that he has something he knows he doesn’t have to share makes sharing other things a bit easier.
If you have things out that you don’t want to share, you’re going to be forced to share. When you treasure things that you don’t want or have to share, it’s important not to bring those things out when there will be others who want to check them out. But children can learn pretty quickly that a lot of fun can be lost if you are not willing to share. If your pink stuffed bear is a toy your child isn’t required to share, bringing him out around friends isn’t going to be fun. A friend may not want to play with you if you aren’t willing to share, and a child may opt to share his prized possession rather than having to put it back for no one to hold.
Instead of forcing your children to share everything, allow them to pick a few toys, perhaps ones they’ve received as birthday or holiday gifts that aren’t stored with the communal toys, to set aside and keep for their own. Having a special storage bin for those chosen items that no one else can take things out of can help to reinforce that each child has their own special toys that they need to care for and that are off limits to others. In addition to fostering a sense of responsibility in each of your children, you just might find less squabbling and more sharing as your children grow and play together.