While we were at the library’s Family Story Time session recently, something happened that made me stop and think about how I would and should handle the situation. I told C about the incident when we got back, and after our short discussion, we’re still unsure of how to deal with it.
It sounds more serious than it probably is, but I think this is one of the first parenting dilemmas that we’ve had. You see, the kids were given various musical instruments to play with, during the songs part of the story time. There were more than enough to go around, and each child could take two instruments if he/she wanted. Noah was given two maracas, and was very happy shaking them and making plenty of noise with them.
A slightly older boy (actually, he could be younger, since the kids here all seem to be big-sized in contrast with Noah) walked over to us, grabbed one of Noah’s maracas, and walked away. Noah was a little upset, and whined a bit, while pointing at the boy. My immediate response was to tell him that it was okay, because he still had one maraca, and that sharing was good.
However, less than a minute later, the same boy came back, snatched Noah’s remaining maraca, and walked away again, happily shaking both maracas, while Noah looked on. He turned to me, and started ‘complaining’ about what had just happened. It was all gibberish, of course, but I’m guessing he wasn’t very pleased about not having any maracas left to play with.
Noah running around happily with the maracas, before they were unceremoniously taken away from him
Now here’s my dilemma. What should I have done? At that moment, I told him that it was okay to share his maracas with the other boy, but I couldn’t help wondering if that was the right thing to say. I don’t want him to think that it is perfectly fine to go around snatching things from people, and I definitely don’t want him to be a doormat, and to be perpetually taken advantage of. I also didn’t want to be the kind of mother who fought her son’s battles for him, which is why I didn’t interfere to stop the boy from taking away Noah’s maracas. In a way, I’m glad that he gave the maracas to the boy without any struggle, but I am also worried that he would be easily bullied by others if he ‘gave in’ so easily.
The little boy’s mother brought him back to us shortly after that, apologised for her son’s behaviour, and made him return both the maracas to Noah. She was very nice about it, and told me that it’s really hard teaching the little ones how to share, at their young age, which is something that I agree with. However, once she turned to tend to her younger child, the boy came back and took both the maracas again. Poor Noah had a really puzzled look, as he pointed at the boy, and whined as he looked at me. I honestly didn’t know what to do, except tell him that it’s okay, and that he could play with his own maracas when we got home.
I’ve read these two articles, advocating AGAINST teaching your child to share, ‘Why I Don’t Make My Son Share’ and ‘5 Reasons Why I Don’t Force My Kids to Share’, as well as this blogpost, ‘In Defense of Sharing’, which was written in response to the first article. All three have raised some good points, and I guess the question now is: how do you strike a balance between teaching your child to share and teaching him not be be a pushover?
What would you have done, if you were in my situation?
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