I think the thing I hear the most amongst Moms at playdates is “Hey, My-Kid, you need to share! Share your toys with Other-Kid!” This happens a lot, and it usually happens to prevent fights between children and to prevent meltdowns. In fact, I think I have heard that phrase out of almost every parents mouth.
I’ve even said these words myself – but I have to tell you, I almost never mean it.
It’s not that I do not want Olive to learn how to share – I do – but more than that, I want her to learn how to stand up for herself. Olive has always been really, really timid. She takes a while to warm up to people, and never dares to approach new situations without hand holding. So she never snatches toys, nor does she fight back when toys are snatched away from her, either.
This means that things are almost always being taken away from her by other kids, and she looks to me for help. I know she still wants that toy. And you know what, of course she still wants that toy….she was just playing with it, and she had it first! And even though I know she has a right to be upset, you know what words come out of my mouth? “Olive, it’s okay, you have to share – here, play with this other toy instead.”
I know why I say it too – because it’s the default, ‘right’ thing to say. But I’m going to make a change – instead of telling her that she has to share a toy that has been taken away from her…I’m going to tell her that it’s okay to be upset. I’m going to tell her that if she wants that toy back, to ask for back, nicely. I’m going to try and teach her to stand up for what she wants – and to go get it.
I am not trying to teach my daughter to be like everyone else – my job as her mom is to help her overcome the challenges she might face. And right now, it seems like she might get bullied or have things taken from her because she’s soft spoken. I want to give her the tools to stand up for herself in the future, if she needs to.
So, if you are a mom who has a timid child like mine, I want to let you know that it’s okay to tell your kid that she doesn’t need to share. And if you’re the parent of “that other kid” – I promise I’m not trying to start a fight. I hope we can both understand that we are all just trying to be good parents to our children, here. So mamas…. don’t be peer pressured into saying the ‘right’ thing…because what’s most important is doing the right thing for my own child.