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Why Teaching Your Kids To Share Is What You’ve Been Doing Wrong

Why Teaching Your Kids To Share Is What You’ve Been Doing Wrong

From an early age we teach children to play well together which usually translates to being kind to other children and learning to share. It’s no coincidence that no matter how many toys there are, if a child has picked a particular one out of the box, then all the other children will want that one too.

In these instances the usual parenting advice is to encourage children to share, take their turn and after a certain time, to let another child have a go with the toy. However, there is a new practice that actually goes against this traditional teaching of sharing which, although it may seem to negate our notion of teaching our children to be thoughtful and kind, it actually creates a mindset of generosity and empathy towards their peers.

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Why Teaching Children To Share May Not Be Effective Parenting Advice

Your first reaction may be of course I should teach my children to share!’ After all, children need to learn that they can’t hog everything for themselves and they need to be aware that other people want to use or play with what they currently have. But by doing this, are we really teaching our children the right lessons?

While it seems that the right thing to do is for a child to give up a loved toy to give to another – whether voluntarily or with tear-filled screaming – there is another side to this and that is we are teaching children that it’s okay to have something someone else has, just because they want it. The idea is that this teaches them that they are ‘owed’ in some way just for wanting the toy. Whether the child is at either end of the situation, they are learning that they can essentially step over someone to get what they want. It’s also usually the case that the child doesn’t even want the toy, but it’s a opportunity for power and possession of something the other child wants.

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Our ultimate shared goal is for our children to learn, understand and grow into kind and generous people who can respond naturally to the needs of others and they develop these qualities in their early play environments. By forcing them to share we are allowing children to create these mindsets:

  • Creates competition and feelings of negativity towards the other child.
  • Allows a child to believe that the harder they cry and protest the more likely they can get what they want.
  • Takes away the pleasure of playing because they know there is a time-limit on the toy they have.
  • Allows a child to perceive that adults are in charge of who gets what and for how long, and it’s usually inconsistent depending on how much the child protests.
  • Allows a child to conclude they themselves must be greedy but it’s what they have to do to get what they want.

What Should You Do Instead?

It’s all about allowing a child to think for themselves and giving them more control. Understandably as parents, we sometimes believe we should regulate, oversee and control a child’s behaviour and responses because we understand the situation much more than a child, however, we need to step back a little and allow children to self-regulate their own turns with a toy. In other words, we trust that our child can formulate, make connections and come to the right decisions by themselves.

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By doing this a child can play happily for as long as they like, with no pressure of power struggle or parental control over how long they have the toy for, but also to hand over the toy with willingness and love when they’ve finished with it. This may sound undoable but with the right amount of freedom, they can learn over time from their own emotional responses and develop their moral understanding.

Not only that, but a child learns they shouldn’t just give up what they want just because someone else demands it in a negative way. Instead, they have a choice to give the other child the toy because they understand the feelings of the other child and perhaps they want to hand over the toy because they no longer want it and recognises the other child may want a turn just like they did themselves. Therefore, this technique:

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  • Allows a child to learn they can be just as happy playing with another toy while they wait.
  • Allows a child to realise they are good and patient.
  • Shows they don’t have to cry and scream to get what they want. Everyone gets a turn eventually and in good time.
  • Allows them to create more positive feelings towards the child that voluntarily give them the toy they want.
  • Teaches them that they are generous when they hand over the toy to another child of their own free will.

Conclusion

The overall idea of implementing this different style of parenting is to develop a greater sense of empathy in children during play. Playing is a crucial time when our children learn how to communicate effectively and this technique helps develop their sense of empathy and their skill in patience that will help them be more efficient in handling bigger situations in the future.

Featured photo credit: kaboompics.com via pexels.com

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Jenny Marchal

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Published on December 14, 2018

14 Helpful Tips for Single Parents: How to Stay Sane While Doing it All

14 Helpful Tips for Single Parents: How to Stay Sane While Doing it All

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 27% of children under the age of 18 are living with a single parent.[1] That’s over 1/4th of the U.S. population.There is a common misconception that children who grow up in single parent homes are not as successful as children living in two-parent homes.

One crucial detail that was often left out of studies when comparing single and two-parent homes was the stability of the household. There is a correlation between family structure and family stability, but this study shows that children who grow up in stable single-parent homes do as well as those in married households in terms of academic abilities and behavior.

But providing stability is easier said than done. With only one adult to act as a parent, some tasks are inherently more challenging. However, there are a few helpful things you can do to make the parenting journey a little easier for yourself and stay sane while doing it.

1. Don’t Neglect Self-Care

Before anything else can be done, you must be caring for your own needs adequately. Only when you are feeling well-rested and healthy can you be at your best for your children.

Many parents tend to put their kids’ needs first and their owns last, but that will result in a never-ending cycle of exhaustion and feelings of inadequacy. Make time to eat regularly and healthfully, get plenty of rest, and squeeze in exercise whenever you can. Even a short walk around the neighborhood will help your body get much-needed movement and fresh air.

Your children depend on you, and it’s up to you to make sure that you are well-equipped and ready to take on that responsibility.

2. Join Forces with Other Single Parents

At times, it may seem like you’re the only person who knows what it’s like to be a single parent. However, the statistics say that there are many others who know exactly what you’re going through.

Find single parents locally, through your kid’s school, extracurricular activities, or even an app. There are also numerous online communities that can offer support and advice, through Facebook or sites like Single Mom Nation.

Although single moms make up the majority of single parents, there are more than 2.6 million single dads in the U.S. A great way to connect is through Meetup. Other single parents will more than happy to arrange babysitting swaps, playdates, and carpools.

Join forces in order to form mutually beneficial relationships.

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3. Build a Community

In addition to finding support with other single parents, also build a community comprised of families of all different types. Rather than focus solely on the single parent aspect of your identity, look for parents and kids who share other things in common.

Join a playgroup, get plugged in at a church, or get to know the parents of the kids involved in the same extracurricular activities. Having a community of a variety of people and families will bring diversity and excitement into your and your kids’ lives.

4. Accept Help

Don’t try to be a superhero and do it all yourself. There are probably people in your life who care about you and your kids and want to help you. Let them know what types of things would be most appreciated, whether it’s bringing meals once a week, helping with rides to school, or giving you time to yourself.

There is no shame in asking for help and accepting assistance from loved ones. You will not be perceived as weak or incompetent. You are being a good parent by being resourceful and allowing others to give you a much-needed break.

5. Get Creative with Childcare

Raising a child on a single income is a challenge, with the high cost of daycares, nannies, and other conventional childcare services. More affordable options are possible if you go a less traditional route.

If you have space and live in a college town, offer a college student housing in exchange for regular childcare. Or swap kids with other single parents so that your kids have friends to play with while the parents get time to themselves.

When I was younger, my parents had a group of five family friends, and all of the children would rotate to a different house each day of the week, during the summer months. The kids would have a great time playing with each other, and the parents’ job becomes a lot easier. That’s what you would call a win-win situation.

6. Plan Ahead for Emergencies

As a single parent, a backup plan or two is a must in emergency situations. Make a list of people you know you can call in a moment’s notice. There will be times in which you need help, and it’s important to know ahead of time who you can rely on.

Look into whether or not your area offers emergency babysitting services or a drop-in daycare. Knowing who will be able to care for your child in the event of an emergency can relieve one potential source of anxiety in stressful situations.

7. Create a Routine

Routines are crucial for young children because knowing what to expect gives them a semblance of control. This is even more important when in a single parent home.

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If the child travels between homes or has multiple caretakers, life can seem extremely chaotic and unpredictable. Establish a routine and schedule for your child as much as possible. This can include bedtime, before/after school, chores, meal times, and even a weekend routine.

Having a routine does not mean things cannot change. It is merely a default schedule to fall back on when no additional events or activities are going on. When your children know what to expect, they will be less resistant because they know what to expect, and days will run much more smoothly.

8. Be Consistent with Rules and Discipline

If your child has multiple caretakers, such as another parent, grandparent, or babysitter, communicate clearly on how discipline will be handled. Talk to your ex, if you are sharing custody, as well as any other caretakers about the rules and the agreed-upon approach to discipline.

When a child realizes that certain rules can be bent with certain people, he/she will use it to their advantage, causing additional issues with limits, behavior, and discipline down the road.

This article may help you to discipline your child better:

How to Discipline a Child (The Complete Guide for Different Ages)

9. Stay Positive

Everyone has heard the saying, “Mind over matter.” But there really is so much power behind your mentality. It can change your perspective and make a difficult situation so much better.

Your kids will be able to detect even the smallest shift in your attitude. When the responsibilities of motherhood are overwhelming, stay focused on the positive things in your life, such as your friends and family. This will produce a much more stable home environment.

Maintain your sense of humor and don’t be afraid to be silly. Look towards the future and the great things that are still to come for you and your family. Rediscover and redefine your family values.

10. Move Past the Guilt

In a single parent home, it is impossible to act as both parents, regardless of how hard you try. Let go of the things that you cannot do as a single parent, and instead, think of the great things you ARE able to provide for your children.

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Leave behind the notion that life would be easier or better with two parents. This is simply not true. There is a multitude of pros and cons to all family dynamics, and the one you are providing for your kids now is the one that they need.

Don’t get bogged down by guilt or regret. Take control of your life and be the best parent you can by being present and engaged with them on a daily basis.

11. Answer Questions Honestly

Your kids may have questions about why their home situation is different from many of their friends. When asked, don’t sugarcoat the situation or give them an answer that is not accurate.

Depending on their age, take this opportunity to explain the truth of what happened and how the current circumstances came about. Not all families have two parents, whether that is due to divorce, death, or whatever else life brings.

Don’t give more detail than necessary or talk badly about the other parent. But strive to be truthful and honest. Your children will benefit more from your candor than a made-up story.

12. Treat Kids Like Kids

In the absence of a partner, it can be tempting to rely on your children for comfort, companionship, or sympathy. But your kids are not equipped to play this role for you.

There are many details within an adult relationship that children are not able to understand or process, and it will only cause confusion and resentment.

Do not take out your anger on your kids. Separate your emotional needs from your role as a mother. If you find yourself depending on your kids too much, look for adult friends or family members that you can talk to about your issues.

13. Find Role Models

Find positive role models of the opposite sex for your child. It’s crucial that your child does not form negative associations with an entire gender of people.

Find close friends or family members that would be willing to spend one-on-one time with your kids. Encourage them to form meaningful relationships with people that you trust and that they can look up to.

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Role models can make a huge difference in the path that a child decides to take, so be intentional about the ones that you put in your kids’ lives.

14. Be Affectionate and Give Praise

Your children need your affection and praise on a daily basis. Engage with your kids as often as possible by playing with them, going on outings, and encouraging open dialogue.

Affirm them in the things that they are doing well, no matter how small. Praise their efforts, rather than their achievements. This will inspire them to continue to put forth hard work and not give up when success is not achieved.

Rather than spending money on gifts, spend time and effort in making lasting memories.

Final Thoughts

Being a single parent is a challenging responsibility to take on. Without the help of a partner to fall back on, single parents have a lot more to take on.

However, studies show that growing up in a single parent home does not have a negative effect on achievement in school. As long as the family is a stable and safe environment, kids are able to excel and do well in life.

Use these tips in order to be a reliable and capable parent for your kids, while maintaining your own well-being and sanity.

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Featured photo credit: Bruno Nascimento via unsplash.com

Reference

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