The park, speaking as a parent, is like the jungle. You find a whole lot of children running around. All of them have come toting an entire cart of toys, bikes, scooters, wagons, cars, dolls, etc. They brought these many, many things to the park to play with, but something very strange happens once they arrive; everyone else’s toys, bikes, cars, dolls, etc. seem so much more appealing than their own. The park becomes a jungle, a place where all the little lions become predators, trying to get toys from other children.
I sometimes sit back and watch this exchange that happens each and every day in wonder. I see it with my own son. He walks so happily to the park with his ball, or his car and then once he goes through those iron gates and he sets eyes on another toy (something he may very well have at home), he quickly lets go of his toys and starts his hunt. A hunt for a scooter, a ball, a dinosaur; anything that he did not bring with him.
You can see so much of your child’s personality by how they react to other children using their toys. Joseph Alexander for instance, has no problem with someone else sharing his bike, or car or ball. He will simply look at me for a second, as if saying, “Is this ok Mom”? I of course nod and say, “Joseph, it’s nice to share”; and all is well, we will walk along and choose another child’s toys to play with.
Unfortunately not everyone has this open heart with regards to their toys. It is quite shocking to see how high strong some children can be against allowing anyone from playing with their toys, while they play with “other’s” toys. And please do understand that by shocking, I am not truly referring to the children, as children have to learn to share. This is a behavior that is not innate in kids. It is learned and usually occurs during the age of 2 – 4. They really start to understand the concept around age 4, when they start school. I can still remember telling my students that, “sharing is caring”. However it seems many parents and nannies need that same reassurance. What I mean by shocking, is the parents’ acceptance of refusal to share with others.
It is shocking to see a child refuse to share and a parent or a nanny simply look at you and say, “He just doesn’t know how to share yet”. Really? He doesn’t know how to share yet, or you don’t have any interest in teaching him to share???
It is simply sad to see this happen. In the jungle of life, as a parent we are the mother and father lions that need to take our children out into the jungle and teach them the behaviors they need to survive. Sharing is in fact a survival behavior. If you do not learn to share, you are going to have a really tough time making friends and simply being happy in any type of play atmosphere.
Mind you, Joseph Alexander was not (and is not) always so willing to share, and still has his moments when giving up whatever he has an interest in at the time is simply not OK. However, I do make sure he understands that he cannot keep things to himself when other children are around. If it is something that is his, and he refuses to share, it goes away. No one can play with it. If the sought after toy is a shared toy like at Gymboree…than he either shares or it goes to the other child.
I feel very strongly about raising a kind young man. A young man that understands that we must be kind and allow others into our lives; through play, through sharing, through kindness. I know I cannot tell others how to raise their kids. I certainly cannot pretend to be a perfect parent. However, I do feel sad when I see a parent or nanny that does not encourage sharing or kindness within their children. We as mother and father lions need to be our pride’s leaders. My pride, may have its hitches here or there, but they certainly know that kindness is a must!