an "Only" Child to Share
By Jodie Lynn
mom recently brought up a scenario that I frequently hear about
in one-child families. Here is her dilemma:
Her son does not have any brothers or sisters. Now that school has
started, he has gotten even worse about sharing. When he goes over
to someone's house, it does not take long before he wants to come
home and play with "his" toys. When he has friends over,
he will pull the toy or book away if the other child tries to play
To tell the truth, I do not think this is a challenge that runs
amuck in one-child families. It might be noticed more quickly, but
all parents go through similar situations.
Make sure you understand the reason why your son does not like to
share. Sometimes children may not know how to answer this and appear
rude and selfish. Role-play. During role-playing, something said
or done may click and you will understand his position. This does
not mean you have to agree with it. It just provides you with more
information so you can help him to help himself.
2. Try to check out the rules about sharing at childcare, school,
camp and even at other children's houses. If others are not sharing,
politely ask why and then explain it to your child. Maybe he is
just doing what is being done to him and this is the way he is learning
about the process.
3. Don't force your son to share special items. Have a box ready
to keep these out of sight when others come over. Personally take
the box and put it in a safe place from everyone including your
son. If he is too young to understand this, do not let him see you
do it. You can always bring the items out after the friend has gone
4. Find out who is coming over and how they play. If it is an "active"
child, plan a few activities away from breakables and allow for
a shorter playtime.
5. Don't make a big deal out of the situation. Change the subject
and keep things moving. Remember to catch your son in the act of
displaying acceptable behavior, give plenty of hugs and praise when
he does share.
is actually OK for you not to make him share every single toy or
book in his room when a friend comes over to play. Rule number three
works really well by labeling a box "special" and putting
it up before kids come over. They will never see the box of toys
or books and if the play date is kept short, your child may not
even ask for them. If he does, say, "If I get out your special
box of toys, your friend gets to play with them too. Do you agree
to do this?"
Rule of thumb: He may not share even if he says he will until around
age four or so. Be prepared to have to put the box back away and
divert their attention to a new activity that will require both
of them to become involved with "hands-on."
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Jodie Lynn is an internationally syndicated parenting/family columnist
who writes the Parent to Parent column. Her latest paperback book
is Mommy-CEO: 5 Golden Rules, 2001 revised edition, which covers
parenting/family and life/health issues. She and her family live
in St. Louis, MO. To learn more about the author, or to buy Mommy-CEO
items (and new Mom, CEO) merchandise, see http://www.parenttoparent.com/