Sharing Is Stupid & Every Toddler Knows It

toddler sharingWe should teach our toddlers to share, right? This is something we all agree about. Or so I thought, until I saw this article, Stop Telling Your Toddler to Share! What the -- no sharing? (And was that exclamation point really necessary?) I've gotta hear this one. What, it teaches them to be passive and let other kids walk all over them?

Nope, that's not it at all. Child development specialists say that your child is almost -- but not quite -- ready to share. And if the whole point of teaching your kids to share is to teach them to care about other people, no worries there. Your toddler already knows a lot more about being good social actors than you realize.

Apparently they're in a "prosocial" stage where they're understanding how to care about other people. And they can show you they get it by helping you. If you ask a toddler to help you with a specific task, or to cooperate with others, they will usually do so happily. (Results may vary.)

But sharing?

It’s true that toddlers are not especially altruistic. They don’t want to give up their toy to another kid in the sandbox. But adults don’t like to give up their toys either. And when the task is less monumental—when cooperation or assistance is required, rather than sacrifice—toddlers are far more willing to help. Altruism is the most demanding sort of prosocial behavior. When we scold toddlers for not sharing their toys, and then think of them as antisocial monsters, we’re grading them as harshly as possibly.

Okay, so if "help Mommy put away the toys" is long division, then sharing is calculus, right? And... some of us still haven't mastered sharing as adults. Do you like letting just anyone use your car? Is it okay if your husband has sex with the lady next door? See what I mean? A lot of the time, sharing makes no sense at all. Plus, you don't even have to teach them explicity about sharing because they already get it. The article even says it can be counterproductive to make your toddler share.

That all makes sense in theory. But could you ever actually act on this information? First of all, there's a lot of social pressure from other parents to teach your toddlers to share. Good luck acting against that.

And it just feels weird not to urge your toddler to share. It feel like you're being negligent in your duties. It's hard not to shake the feeling that you're potentially raising a total sociopath.

Would you still feel comfortable and responsible as a parent if you stopped telling your toddler to share?

learning, play, toddler development


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Melissa Young

No I wouldn't feel good about telling the toddler not to share. I really get annoyed by parents would don't teach their child good manners such as sharing.


nonmember avatar Amber

No. I wouldn't want to share my husband or let a stranger borrow my car. I also wouldn't expect my son to share his favorite lovey with anyone. The context in which sharing is necessary is when my son goes to his fellow toddler friends house, swipes HIS toy from him, and shouts MINE! No, darling it is not yours. You share toys, especially in the sandbox when the toys are community property.

Is it stupid to expect someone to share the road when driving? To share the cake at a birthday party? To share the seats at a movie theatre? Clearly it is still ok to share your opinion. Lol. This kind of article is just another step in teaching our children the ever popular indulgence in the sense of entitlement that our society is obsessed with... Then get upset when your rights are being taken away. Come on people! Do the Barney thing. Share.

Vegeta Vegeta

I was taught that if say I was playing with legos and my brother wanted to play, I had to share. Because I wasn't using all 700000+ legos obviously, and it would be selfish to not share. But if I was playing with an action figure or two and my brother wanted to play, he was told to wait his turn or bring his own toy over and ask to join in. It's kind of common sense.

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