We parents of toddlers should call a truce on the sharing. Why? Because kids at this age just don’t share. Which is not to say they’re not nice. I mean, my Earl’s a freaking sweetheart. But when that kid finds a toy he likes, he’s going to play with it. And tough luck if your kid wants a turn.
Am I raising my own member of a completely entitled generation? Man, I hope not.
It’s just that I get his brain isn’t quite ready to tell his heart what to do. If you hear me say, “Hey Earl! Let that kid have a turn!” be assured that I’m saying it just so you won’t hate me. I don’t actually think Earl’s going to want to share it.
Sharing isn’t caring when you’re a toddler. Sharing’s torture!
I’ve been doing this for years, pretending I want my kids to share just to keep the harmony and story time. But honestly, I don’t expect it (from my kid or yours), and I’m not embarrassed when Earl (or my other two, when they were his age) won’t comply. I’ve even gone as far as taking away the toy in question just to keep the peace (the other kid’s peace, since naturally my own kids usually start screaming.)
So I’m hoping every parent of a toddler will read Heather’s “Science of Kids” piece on Babble today. She explains in grown-up terms, what kids experience when we tell them to share:
In adult terms, it’s like when I sit down with my morning coffee and get absorbed by a book — the rest of the world falls away, and my attention is completely wrapped up. Asking a toddler to share what he’s working with (if it’s something in which he’s truly engaged) would be a bit like saying to me in that moment, “Now, you read that novel for five minutes and then give it to Tommy so he can read for five minutes.” I might comply, but I’d feel interrupted, confused, and probably more than a little annoyed.
Annoyed. Totally! Which is not to say we shouldn’t find ways to help them empathize, a first step in becoming a naturally generous and understanding sharer. But at 2? Early 3? In the give-and-take of communal toys, they’re really only ready for the latter.