The “sharing struggle” is something every parent can relate to.
There’s a swarm of kids on the playground. One comes up to your kid and wants to play with whatever toy they have.
Immediately, we spring into action.
“Share, sweetheart! You have to share!”
But do they have to share? Do they really?
One mom doesn’t think so.
Alanya Kolberg recently explained on Facebook why she tells her son that it’s OK to say “no.”
She recounted a recent visit to the playground when her son, Carson, was bombarded by a group of boys demanding he share his toys.
Instead of simply trying to keep the peace and avoid conflict, Kolberg had a different message for her young son:
“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,” she wrote.
“I said, ‘He doesn’t have to share with you. He said no. If he wants to share, he will.'”
Kolberg wrote that she got plenty of dirty looks from the other parents, but she explained her reasoning:
“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.”
“The goal is to teach our children how to function as adults,” she wrote. “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.”
Saying no to sharing may sound counterintuitive, but when you think about it, Kolberg’s message makes perfect sense.
“As an Educator, I completely agree with this. When children are not taught to assert themselves when necessary, it leads to so many situations of bullying,” wrote one commenter.
Though not everyone agrees:
“I’m sorry but nothing material is worth a fight. I will share everything and anything I can,” responded another.
Of course we want our kids to share. Of course we want them to show affection to grandma and grandpa. But isn’t it equally (or more) important that they know their own comfort and happiness matter?
Judging by the viral reaction to Kolberg’s post, plenty of parents out there think the answer ought to be yes.