I think many of us have read or heard somewhere along this parenting journey that babies and toddlers should not be expected to share with others. I know I believed this for many years! I thought I was doing the right thing in providing multiples of coveted toys or creating a distraction when a struggle b/t toddlers ensued.
It became obvious to me, that without my intervening in these encounters, he was socializing!
Let me clarify...
We have all seen one child playing with a toy, anther one comes over and grabs it from him. Typically, the adult admonishes the taker and returns the toy to the victim. Sometimes, the taker is offered a distraction with another toy that is almost identical. The adults are happy, the children seemingly appear content and the children go on their way, SEPARATELY. Problem solved, and the adult thereby promises that any social interaction has ceased!
Until of course, the taker doesn't want the distraction toy (Even though it is completely identical). He wants the original. I have heard so many times from adults..."Honey, this one is the same as that one!" "Why do you want his?" "They always want the one they can't have!"
Could we consider that taking toys is nature's way of letting children problem solve and also that it is not about the toy itself but about children wanting to form a relationship with one another?
Often the victim is not even upset when a toy is taken. (Of course,then the parent becomes concerned that their child will never stand up for him/her-self ;).
However, if the adults are quiet..., the children often begin a fun game of give and take.
Ask any parent and they will tell you that the purpose of sending a young child to nursery school or doing any sort of class/play date is TO SOCIALIZE their child...
But so often, we refuse to let them socialize with one another. Apparently only niceties are allowed. When an adult judges an encounter to be negative, she rushes in to solve the problem herself. ( I can't tell you the number of times, I have done this myself!!)
Claire is doing a puzzle...Kyle walks over and take a puzzle piece from her...Adults are nearby, offering support and most importantly TRUST!
Claire wants to finish the puzzle and is frustrated that Kyle took her piece. Kyle holds tightly to the puzzle pieces.
Claire seems unsure of what to do. But the adults WAIT and OBSERVE.
Claire uses her language and says quietly, "Give it back."
Kyle can't hear her, so the adult repeats, "Claire is saying to Kyle, Give it back."
The teacher shows Claire how to hold her hand, palm out, and prompts her to ask in a louder voice, "Can I have a puzzle piece?"
Young children often need a physical sign to indicate wishes.
Kyle then happily proceeds to give all the puzzle pieces back.
Claire has just learned some techniques for indicating her wants, the importance of speaking up, and that she can handle her problems herself.
Kyle has also been allowed to be in the role of "the giver" instead of the taker. He has also been trusted to be in a position of power, which is a healthy human need.
It then becomes obvious to nearby adults that the children are not acting with malice but instead trying to make connections, attempting to understand, maybe even create a friendship.
So, I get a lot of funny looks from parents when I say, "Let's practice not sharing."
Maybe I should phrase it, "Let's practice, NOT JUDGING!" and Let's allow our children to problem solve!