Beth of Very Bloggy wrote a terrific post about teaching your kids to share and how to be very thoughtful about what lessons we’re teaching our kids about their entitlement. Beth brings to light that it’s a positive thing for your kid to learn to deal with the unpleasant feelings of disappointment or the need to be patient. (Have I mentioned that I LOVE this post!?)
On her Facebook page, Beth also expands further on the post to clarify a few points such as the fact that most toddlers will share automatically, and that the specific scenarios she described in the blog post were significantly abbreviated.
It is such a challenge to maintain perspective about your own kid, because we are so heavily biased with intense love for them and a strong desire to give them anything they could possibly want. Of course, most parents realize that giving in to that desire is not going to create a very balanced or healthy adult, but it exists nonetheless. I like this gentle reminder to parents that it is equally important for your child to learn to deal with conflict as it is to enjoy the (fleeting) happiness that comes with getting what you want.
I would simply like to add that it is also important to balance these boundaries on sharing with a sense of generosity; if your kid is playing with a toy and entitled to it, they will experience something deeply gratifying if they choose to give it to someone who wants it. For some kids, this comes naturally, and for others it is a struggle.
The church service we attend takes place in a gymnasium. After the service, the kids run around the gym with bouncy balls and wreak havoc – it’s great! My daughter is newly walking and yesterday was the first day that I allowed her to “run” around too – with my helicopter-self hovering behind to try to protect her from falling or being run into by the bigger kids. She was delighted– her squeals and giggles were absolutely gleeful. When she saw the other kids playing with balls, she wanted one of course. The first little boy she approached wouldn’t give it to her, which was fine because he was playing with it. A five-year-old girl who is the daughter of some of our friends noticed my daughter wanted a ball, so she came over to her and gave her the one she was playing with. My daughter was so excited by this, and when the other little girl saw how happy it made her, she was thrilled – probably made happier seeing my daughter’s delight at this new toy than she was just playing with the ball herself.
The adage, “In Giving, We Receive” puts it perfectly. Yes – it is super important to teach your kids not to be doormats or/and entitled brats — but also, remember to teach your kids the joy of giving. They’ll learn to be generous when you’re generous with them, but they will especially learn this lesson when you’re generous with others. When they grow up into the successful, happy, prosperous adults we hope they will become, it will be their responsibility to care for of the needs of others who are not so lucky.