I have never a big fan of forced sharing. While I have encouraged my kids to ask for things before taking and to consider letting their sibling in on fun activities, it is not a requisite to “let your brother have some, too.” This is, in part, because I want them to learn boundaries; making someone share is similar — in my mind — to taking away the power and responsibility of the child that has possession of the toy. I want them to exercise free will kindly.
Because of my reluctance to make my kids share their toys, I think that, when they do share, it is genuine, and everyone has more fun. One example is the use of Mega Bloks toys at our house. Whenever one kid has a set out, another will come over to investigate, and within minutes, they are playing together. Mega Bloks is one of the few brands that we actually see encouraging “natural” cooperative play in our home.
While we have to be careful that the youngest one doesn’t play with the toys outside of his recommended age range (the toys for children age 3+ aren’t meant for kids under 3), with careful supervision, our living room floor will look something like this:
It is almost a guarantee that, if one kid is playing, the others will join in. It is not unusual to see all four boys using one of the “under three” Mega Bloks sets (like the little dump truck in the picture) — and one of the reasons I really like the toys is that they can be used together between sets. This naturally encourages interactive play between the children.
With proper supervision, there is no reason all the kids can’t play together!
How do you feel about sharing? Do you think kid should be made to share? How can it be fostered naturally in their days of play?