From the title, you can probably guess what we are struggling with lately! Charlotte is learning how to share. And Mom is learning how to teach Charlotte to share.
This is both my opinion and experience. It might be helpful for you, but you are welcome to take it or leave it.
I’m not quite sure where it started, but all of a sudden, Charlotte would start clutching toys or food to her chest saying “Mine!” She goes to Mother’s day out, the church nursery, and different play groups, so there’s no telling where she heard it. And sure, it’s possible she heard it from Dave and I!
Once this started, I paid more attention to it, and noticed sometimes I would say it back. She would grab my coffee cup and I would say, No, that’s Mommy’s coffee. Or, my favorite, she would take something of David’s and say “mine!” and he would say “mine!” right back! (Sorry, sweetie!!)
I was then talking with a Mother whose children are in a Montessori school and spoke about her learning to share. She said at Montessori, they don’t make children share. I thought this was extremely interesting and wanted to look further into it. I liked the premise because I struggled with how to handle this with Charlotte.
I read some articles on the theory and I thought I would share it with you in case you’re wondering how to handle this as well. I’m going to tag one of the articles that I found extremely straight forward and helpful.
She said the children share all the toys yet are not forced to stop working on something because someone else wants to play with it. The children are prompted to say “when I’m done with this you can play with it". Another suggestion would be to ask “Will you let me know when you’re done playing with this?”
She brought up a great point that play is children’s work, and if you were working on a big project and a coworker came over and took your laptop, you’d be frustrated, too! That helped me to put it into perspective.
This allows each child time to use what they’re working on, and also teaches waiting for their turn and patience. Two very important lessons.
I also loved that in the particular article I tagged, they addressed all of the concerns that I had such as giving to the less fortunate and sharing toys with friends when they come over to your home. These topics will definitely come up as Charlotte starts to notice when we box up and donate her clothes and toys. For now, though, I can give away toys without her noticing!! (We’ll see how much longer I have on that one!!)
I want to add that it’s important to validate how frustrating it can be to wait, or if your friend is playing with a toy that really interests you. You can also praise that when they do wait their turn that they are learning and practicing patience! “It’s really hard to wait for someone to finish playing with a toy, you’re doing such a great job waiting patiently”.
Since Charlotte doesn’t speak in long sentences and can’t quite say “you can play with this when I’m finished”, we’ve been modeling for her. What we’ve been saying is when she wants a toy that someone else has, we might say something like “You really want to play with that toy, when Noah is done playing with it, you can use it”. Or “Noah would love to use that toy that you have, when you’re done with it, you can give it to her to play with”. When a friend takes a toy without asking and Charlotte begins to cry, we’ll empathize with that frustration. We might say, “you’re sad that your toy was taken” or “you were really enjoying that toy and are frustrated that it was taken”.
So, now I want to hear from you guys! How did sharing pan out with your little ones? Or are you in the middle of sharing right now?