At what developmental stage is it appropriate to expect children to share? 3 years old? 4? 5? And what about siblings? My sisters and I still have a little bit of angst towards sharing (terrible, isn’t it? And we’re adults!)
Well I can tell you that at 3.5 and 19 months, Jack and Sarah rarely share. They are kind to each other, Jack will give Sarah something if he thinks she will enjoy playing with it, but only if he isn’t already using it. Sometimes they will play together if neither of them want what the other one is playing with; sometimes they will play side-by-side, and on occasion I will catch them playing with something together…occasionally. But for the most part, when one of them has something and the other one wants it, it generally ends in a ‘MINE!’
This behaviour is very unnerving for me. I really don’t like seeing them argue. I know that it is important for them to learn how to negotiate different social situations but I also know that at this stage it would be very unrealistic for me to expect them to share. When they are older? Absolutely. But not now.
Jack has been very interested in blocks lately. Unfortunately for him though, Sarah still finds much joy in knocking down blocks. This has caused a lot of frustration in our house recently.
I think it is very important for Sarah to feel included; if Jack is building blocks then she wants to build blocks too. For her to be included and for the experience to be a harmonious one, Sarah needed her own space. I came across this little piece of timber when I was cleaning out the laundry, the perfect size for Sarah. Now she can play alongside her brother.
My husband and I have also been very conscious about giving Jack and Sarah the words they need to work through a situation. I recently came across Dr. Laura Markham’s peaceful parenting blog and have been busily taking notes. More and more rather than screaming mine and snatching, we are hearing Jack say:
‘I’m still playing with this Sarah. When I am finished you can have a turn.’
‘Would you like to play with this one, Sarah?’
And just this morning I heard (and my heart sang)…
‘When you are finished with that Sarah, may I have a turn please?’