Every parent wants their child to share. Every parent worries when their young child won’t.
We know, however, from understanding child development, that sharing is a process – a continuum, and that very young children are at one end of this continuum, finding it difficult to share but watching and learning.
Young children learn most about sharing from the people in their lives, especially the adults. They watch us sharing with them, with our neighbors, with our friends and they follow the example we set.
One of the first ways a child anticipates the fun of sharing is in taking turns with a friend.
I watched this going on at Play Shoppe on Friday morning. An intuitive mom avoided children arguing over the chance to roll the one pumpkin into the liter-bottle ghosts by gathering these five or six little boys into a half circle and taking turns.
First one got to roll, then the next one got to roll.
Each child purely loved taking their own turn, yet from the laughter and look on their faces, they also relished with delight watching the others take their turn in a group effort to knock those ghost off their feet.
I watched with delight also as I witnessed these young children moving ahead on the sharing continuum path.
That’s why I was so struck the next night when I heard excerpts from comedian Jon Stewart’s remarks in a speech he gave in Washington on Saturday at the Rally to Restore Sanity/and or Fear.
He said no matter how divisive our politicians want to make us out to be, the people in this country want to work together. They are doing it everyday – regardless of the differences in skin color, religion or politics. They are doing it side by side as they work, share, build communities and raise families.
He then gave the best example yet. Thousands of cars everyday, filled with individuals – all different – merging one by one, from ten lanes into two lanes through the Holland Tunnel in New York. These people, all at the end of their “sharing continuum”, taking turns, in order to get through – in order to get home.
“You go, then I’ll go. You go, then I’ll go” as the cars peacefully merge through the tunnel.
And that’s the best way our kids learn how to share. It doesn’t need to be forced or lectured – just suggested and modeled.
They are watching us merge, watching us share, watching us wait our turn.
So let’s just keep on doing what we’re already doing. Helping out others, sharing good times and sad, finding fun ways for our children to take turns, to see the benefits, to feel the energy, to make it work.