When Sharing Is a Problem

The world we live in is by and large a materialistic one and almost every facet of life is guided by what we possess or what we would like to possess.

Even wild animals will fight to the death to defend their possessions – usually mating partners, but sometimes it is territory, a kill or even hierarchy. It is, therefore, without a doubt that it is an ingrained trait that is coded in our makeup.

But though a wild animal will put up a fight to repulse perceived encroachers, it is also programmed to do the very opposite – share what it possesses. After a lioness hunts and makes a kill, she will ordinarily allow the lion and her cubs to come and share the meal yes, even allow the lion eat first! We have seen all sorts of animals and birds carry food to their young ones.

Man too has it in himself to share. Even the meanest of men will share something from amongst his possessions with someone else. However, this kind of virtue does not come with man as soon as he is born. No, it is usually something nurtured, grown and learnt.

As very young children, we have all been rather protective of our possessions and hardly ever been eager to share. But as we grow, we realise that there is actually a lot of satisfaction derived from sharing.

My four-year-old son Saqeeb has a magic phrase that almost always works for him.

“God says we share,” he will come up and announce to you, should he notice you are holding something he wants a piece of, more especially if it is a cookie or any other delicacy. Now how can you brush aside such a lesson in theology? However, whenever he is himself holding something he treasures and you aance the same suggestion to him, he will only give you a wide grin and a look that is almost certainly saying: ‘Sorry, but that doesn’t apply here.’

Whereas Saqeeb is still learning why people should share and its importance in relating to others, he is still largely a person who guards his stuff jealously. Whenever he hosts little boys from the neighbourhood, he will hardly let them take a turn on any of his playthings, and it will be instant complaints as soon as the other boy does get round to taking his turn.

It never dawns on him that he will still be in possession of the object of dispute when the visitor leaves and will have it all to himself!

An article titled How to teach your child to share (ages 3 to 4) on www.babycentre.co.uk poses this question: “Why doesn’t your child know how to share?” And provides this answer: “Well, he knows he just isn’t very consistent about doing it.”

The article goes on to suggest that you “Teach your child cooperative games in which players work together toward a common goal.”

Also, “Give him things to share with his friends now and then, like a special snack for nursery or a roll of stickers…”

However, the article cautions that “If you tell your child that he is selfish, discipline him when he doesn’t share, or force him to hand over a prized possession, you will foster resentment, not generosity. To encourage sharing, use positive reinforcement rather than admonishment. Keep in mind, too, that it is OK for your child to hold back certain items.”

Are you a father? What have you learnt or discovered about your youngsters and parenting? Share joys, trials, challenges, successes. Send them in 500 words to

Source : The Observer

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