This Mom's Post About Teaching Her Son Not To Share All The Time Is An Important Read No Matter How Old You Are
Learning to share is a major step in any child’s social development, but can children be taught to share too much? Alanya Kolberg thinks so. In a Facebook post last week, the mom recalled teaching her son not to share during a recent trip to the park. The post, which gives an alternative view of the “Sharing is caring” doctrine, has gone massively viral, racking up more than 200,000 shares in less than a week. Kolberg’s argument that children need to be taught self-care and personal boundaries, in addition to sharing, has struck a chord with thousands of readers, though some disagree with her approach.
As soon as we walked in the park, Carson was approached by at least 6 boys, all at once demanding that he share his transformer, Minecraft figure, and truck. He was visibly overwhelmed and clutched them to his chest as the boys reached for them. He looked at me.
"You can tell them no, Carson," I said. "Just say no. You don't have to say anything else."
Of course, as soon as he said no, the boys ran to tattle to me that he was not sharing. I said, "He doesn't have to share with you. He said no. If he wants to share, he will."
Kolberg said that her statement earned her “some dirty looks from other parents,” but she didn’t back down. She explained her reasoning, writing,
If I, an adult, walked into the park eating a sandwich, am I required to share my sandwich with strangers in the park? No!
Would any well-mannered adult, a stranger, reach out to help themselves to my sandwich, and get huffy if I pulled it away? No again.
So really, while you're giving me dirty looks, presumably thinking my son and I are rude, whose manners are lacking here? The person reluctant to give his 3 toys away to 6 strangers, or the 6 strangers demanding to be given something that doesn't belong to them, even when the owner is obviously uncomfortable?
The goal is to teach our children how to function as adults. While I do know some adults who clearly never learned how to share as children, I know far more who don't know how to say no to people, or how to set boundaries, or how to practice self-care. Myself included.
In any case, Carson only brought the toys to share with my friend's little girl, who we were meeting at the park. He only didn't want to share with the greedy boys because he was excited to surprise her with them.
The next time your snowflake runs to you, upset that another child isn't sharing, please remember that we don't live in a world where it's conducive to give up everything you have to anyone just because they said so, and I'm not going to teach my kid that that's the way it works.
Hundreds of people have chimed in to Kolberg’s post, many in support. One commenter wrote, for example,
As a preschool Teacher, you would be surprised how many parents are disturbed by my take on sharing. I always ask them "if you had 100 dollars, and I wanted 50, would you give it to me? No." You would use your words to say no, not cry or hit me. That's what I teach my kids, to use words to politely say "no thank you, this belongs to me, or im using this right now. "
Another commenter added,
Kids are required to share public property like the toys and slides and swings at the park. These toys are his personal property just like his shirt and shoes. He doesn't need to share his personal property. Lol people are so crazy.
Not everyone agrees with Kolberg, however. “This is actually a very harmful way of thinking,” one commenter wrote. “What you are doing is raising a child who will feel entitled to have everything both their own stuff and everyone else’s. Not the best idea.”
I think the real take away from this is that sharing (and not sharing) requires balance, and kids need to be taught to — and be allowed to — find the balance of giving and keeping that works for them. Yes, sharing is an essential social skill — but so is being able to say “No” when you need to.
Some commenters have pointed out that Kolberg’s post is a lesson for people at any age. “Great lesson for adults too!” one commenter pointed out. “We are taught to give everything of ourselves or be deemed selfish and thats not always healthy.” Another suggested that self-protection is something that can take decades to learn, writing, “I'm 51 years old and I'm only now giving myself guilt-free permission to share my money, possessions, affections or time on MY terms, if I feel so inclined.”