Development, Education, Gentle, manners, reasonable expectations

Community Chat: SHARING

An interesting post about sharing was posted in the Facebook group not too long ago, and following it was a fantastic conversation on sharing and how some of our members handle this often-tricky topic.

This is the shared post, written by Alanya Kolberg:


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.”

That got me some dirty looks from other parents. Here is the thing though:

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👌

Read more about why you should teach YOUR child to say “no”:

After this was posted in the group, with the question “Thoughts?” the following discussion ensued:

  • I don’t like the mother’s tone, but I actually agree in this context. These kids were complete strangers to her kid. And it is HIS choice of what he wants to do with HIS toys. He clearly had plans to share it with someone already. I think practicing a phrase like “no, I’m sorry not today” is helpful. Helping a child set boundaries.
    As a parent I think I’d offer another suggestion for the kids to get to know each other, like why don’t you play on the slides together. Trying to build a relationship. But if the purpose was just to look at the toy and my kid didn’t, I’d stick with, “sorry, he’s not comfortable sharing that toy today. “
    I think it’s important to back your child up when giving their consent, especially to strangers. Today it’s a toy, but it could eventually be more…


  • I agree with this mom completely. If you want others to share with your child, teach them to be polite. And to accept when someone else says no. We should teach our kids polite manners, but also that there is no “magic word” that will get you everything you want. Sometimes when you are perfectly nice and sweet, people still say no. And they need to accept that answer.


  • I agree with the article as an adult I don’t randomly go up to people and say Hey can I have that or can I play with that. If I did and they said no then I’d have to accept it. Plus as Ashley kinda hinted at no means no in every content. if you teach them that when they say no it doesn’t mean anything when they’re young, over toy or forced hugs and kisses, how are they going to be able to differentiate later when it’s something important that could hurt them.
    • What about when having a play date at say your house and your child does not want to share their toys and any toy the other child picks up your child takes and walks around with armsful which is pretty common and “normal”
    • Good question. I allow my son to pick a toy or two he doesn’t want to share when friends are here and we put them in my closet to “keep them safe” as he says. The rest, I tell him, are there for his friends and him to all take turns playing with or play together (he’s 3.5) and that if he wants friends over he has to share his toys. Sometimes he needs gentle reminders while they’re here but overall he can handle it this way because his “favorites” are not being mauled by others.
    • Ok for that scenario if L (my child) has friends say E and B over for a playdate. Before they come over we pick out toys to share before hand. we talk about the fact that E and B are coming over to play and what toys would you like to play as a group together with. While everyone is here and say E picks up a toy then L wants it we say ” E is playing with it now when he is done you can play with it.”
    • I allow my son to put away certain toys before play dates. Otherwise everything out is to share. Its harder with my younger two that don’t get the concept.


  • While I agree with the idea behind this article, why do so many bloggers make such HORRIBLE comparisons. A child bringing toys to a playground does not equate to an adult bringing a sandwich to the park. At all. Ever. Also, food is a life sustaining nutrition source that you need to survive. If a homeless man asked for that sandwich you might feel like you have to share. I would say a better example would be walking into a nursing home with a baby and saying no one can look at it. Or bringing a kitten to the office and saying no one can hold it. I’m a server now and if people walk by the restaurant with a cute dog the other girls go running out to see it and pet it. On a related note, I always tell my son that if he wants to bring toys to the playground, expect to be asked by all the kids to play with it. And if he sets it down, expect another kid to pick it up. He’s usually happy to share every time, but it’s his choice.


  • I don’t bring toys to the playground for this exact reason. The playground is for running, sliding, swinging, etc.- not fighting over who gets to play with a plastic dump truck or whatever.


  • I like to model sharing and at times I do encourage it, but it’s primarily with communal toys and things between my children or their friends when they come over to visit as they’ve been invited to come and play with these things. I do not think it should be forced though and especially in situations like the one mentioned in the article.


  • Ideally static playgrounds would be accompanied by an assortment of loose parts and materials to facilitate all kinds of play experiences for everyone to use… but seeing as we’re way behind the curve on that one, it’s probably best to leave personal items at home. Learning to negotiate toy usage, problem solving, and conflict resolution are really important things for children to learn through play and without too much adult interference, but parenting styles and how each family approaches sharing vary so much, it’s probably not worth having squabbles over personal toys at the playground.


  • Adults do, in fact, turn down our version of “sharing”. If someone wanted to see a cool thing that you had and you didn’t want it to break or get dirty, you might say “No, I just bought this and haven’t really had a chance to ‘play’ with it myself yet. But they have it on display at (some) store at the mall!” But kids haven’t learned the nuances of social behavior so they simply say “No!”. To make the adult comparison, I think this has to be accounted for.


  • I don’t have a problem with the kid choosing not to share his toys, but I don’t like the way that the mom wrote this. I try and encourage my kids to share, but don’t force them. I also try and steer them away from brining any items to the playground they won’t be comfortable sharing with others.


  • If it’s my daughters own toys I encourage her to share if she feels like it but don’t force her. If it’s playground stuff like swings or communal things then I encourage taking turns, sharing. But we leave stuff at home for this very reason. I put away special things she loves before nieces/nephews come over too, like her special Calico Critters and dolls. I have a playroom that is designed more for communal play (play kitchen, blocks, puzzles, art) that I have her play in with others. There is less fighting in dramatic play over toys in my experience.


  • Nothing is ever black and white but I like what this mom is teaching her child. Allowing a child the freedom or the right to refuse to share translates in other ways too. Like bodily autonomy. It’s not a bad thing to have an assertive child. For example, my 2 year old daughter was interacting with another child close in age. Throughout their brief interaction this other child would touch and grab at my 2 year old, push and pull her in different directions. My daughter is usually fairly assertive so I chose to stay out of it but observed their interaction. It was obvious that my LO didn’t enjoy being pushed and pulled about but she wasn’t standing up for herself. Later that day, This other child took the sunglasses off of my LOs face and put them on her own. My LO looked sad and confused so she said to me “mama those are my sunglasses” and I said “yes they are. Go ahead and take them back. If you’d like to put them down, I’ll hold them for you.” So she did just that. And I could tell that having that choice, and the control over her property gave her a sense of confidence in dealing with this other child. Shortly thereafter, this little girl went about pulling my LO by her hand to force her onto a jungle gym. With her recently enforced confidence (by not having to share her sunglasses) she was able to pull her hand away and chose to play in another section of the park. I believe she learned more about life and people that day than if I had made her uncomfortably deal with having to appease another person.