Sharing is a never ending battle in our household. I'm sure it started the day my second was born, but I was too tired to notice. Now instead of the jealousy of 'sharing mommy' when they were little, now it's fighting over toys, games and anything they can think of like a napkin at a restaurant. Seriously.
I know that arguing and fighting over things like toys is part of childhood and I talked a little about how to help with sibling rivalry here. The book Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too I referenced in my other post is still the best one out there! I try as much as I can to go by their recommendations, of course not 100% of the time because sometimes after a long day, I just don't have the energy to deal and just end up putting whatever toy they are fighting over in timeout and then turning on the TV. Yep, the TV basically numbs my kids into a drunken stare and creates about 25 minutes of peace (a usual Disney Jr length show).
But I got to thinking about how we treat 'sharing' in Play Therapy and group play therapy. We don't make kids share in play therapy. Say one child is playing with a tractor and another child wants to play with it. We don't say "you have to share...take turns...etc". Instead, we tell the child, "it looks like X is playing with the tractor, and when he is done playing with it, it will be your turn." AND then of course we reflect the feeling: "looks like you are feeling frustrated because you want to play with it, and it's not fun to wait"...
We do this because in play therapy, we believe that kids should have the freedom to express and play as they wish and as a therapist, our goal is to let the child express themselves as much as possible and with as few limits as possible. This allows the child to freely be who they are and to 'let go'. Just like an adult in a therapy session, we want them to be able to talk about whatever they want and 'let it all out!'
But I know in real life, kids need to learn that we take turns and share. They will have to share at school all day long. They have to learn to wait in lines- no buts no cuts and no interrupts, right? We need to teach kids that we can't have everything we want. Heck, there are a few handbags I love but know I can't have them all. And kids need to get used to sharing because they will one day have a roommate in college and get married and then will really have to share things :)
We all learned the appropriate social skills on sharing as kids, and learning that made us survive in this world as adults. As parents, that's our goal in teaching our kids social cues and how to behave in public.
But I get it. There are times like when I get my new iPhone or a new fun electronic gadget and don't want my husband immediately grabbing it out of my hands and playing with it. Or a new handbag that I just bought, I don't want my mom coming over and asking to borrow it THAT day! (sorry mom).
So I realized with my kids, maybe we could practice the same thing. I now have this rule that when they get a new toy, they get to play with it for a few days and don't have to share it right away. I try a balance between our play therapy practices and real life.
I've tried to take a more relaxed approach on the whole sharing thing. I've realized that basically they fight over anything the other one has. Even if it's a toilet paper holder. Whatever one has, the other wants. I try not to get involved and let them work it out. Yes, the noise and whining is super annoying, but they need a few minutes to figure it out. If I run to the rescue every time, then they won't be able to learn on their own. And so far it's been working well. I even sometimes hear them say, "Belle, you have to share and take turns" and I swear a few times they have come to me and asked me to set the timer on taking turns! Without me intervening at all. Seriously!
So for now, this little system is working. Of course we still have 'but she did it first'. Or "I didn't get a turn yet!' But for the most part, trying to relax on all of it is my goal. "Work it out girls, work it out" :)