Wednesday, December 19, 2012

SHARE - the forced politeness

Share.  This is a word an infant hears repeatedly probably before they are even crawling.  A word that is said, over and over, and over and over again.  Share.  Share your toys, share your space, share your food, share your love, share your mommy, share, share, share.

Today, while I was in the playground I heard a grandmother (I am assuming this) tell the child, "SHARE!"  2 second pause.  "SHARE!"  "I said SHARE!".

I write it in caps and punctuate it as I heard.  So, if this is what I hear as an adult, can you imagine what the child hears?

I know I'm totally out of the box, down the road, across the hills, and deep in the woods, when it comes to this idea that we have to tell, yell, and force our children to share.  I don't think it's natural.  It's not.

Dr. Montessori talks about how the ages of 0-3 are when the child is developing his sense of self, also called Ego formation.  In this very fragile state he is building his sense of self unknowingly. It is an unconscious process in which the child absorbs the environment which includes behavior and social etiquette.  She also says that at this stage the child cannot "obey you" because he is listening to his inner teacher or his Will as she calls it.  The child's will is to develop himself, his strengths, his motor coordination, his ability recognize and categorize, and so much more.  At this stage, while all these high functioning processes are going on in the brain, he is unable to put himself outside of his body and consider how his actions are impacting the child next to him (who for the most part is a stranger in the playground).

It is essential and very important that we integrate and socialize our children to the culture in which we live, however, there is time.  The time comes just after 3, closer to 4 when the child starts to realize how his actions are impacting another.  After 3, the child has a conscious mind, a mind that seeks to learn from you, become a concrete thinking relating to his/her environment.

So, how do we get from the formation of the ego to a well adjusted and considerate child?  By modeling that behavior ourselves.  If we are polite and courteous to others, if we smile and open a door to another adult or child, if we offer assistance to another person, if we use words like "please," "may I," "thank you," and truly embody the sentiments of compassion and consideration to a fellow human being, then just then will our children become aware and understand what "share" truly means.

It saddens me to see what rude adults we become, sheltered in our own world, self-reliant, self-absorbed, self-centered, and all the while believing we are better for it.  Believing that being this way is being independent.  To me, independence is also knowing when you need help, knowing the difference between solitude and solace, empathy and sympathy, reaching out to others, and being true to oneself.

If we are to demand our not crawling, not walking, not talking children to SHARE!  Then maybe we should start by demanding the same of ourselves.

If the notion of sharing is that of; walking a mile in another man's shoes, then we should start by taking small steps in our children's shoes.  Understanding the complexity of an adult world through their eyes would be far better than forcing them to SHARE!

Shared on: wildcrafting wednesday, simple lives thursdays, HomeAcre Hop,  small footprint family, fresh eggs daily, Fresh Bites Friday, Wednesday Fresh Food,  Sunday Parenting Party, hip homeschool moms,  Living Green Tuesday, Food Renegade, Eat Make Grow, Mums Make Lists,


  1. So eloquent and true, thank you for SHARING!

    1. Thank you. It's been building up for 4 years, but something in me just had to put it out there today. After listening to Dr. Adele Diamond and how she said it's about listening to the children and being with them, this just seems counter productive to development.

  2. This was shared with me, and I thought it was a nice write up.

    THE DAILY GROOVE ~ by Scott Noelle

    :: Have a NICE day! ::

    Most of us have been thoroughly trained to be "nice."
    The 2-part Rule of Nice goes like this...

    Part 1: Only say and do things that please others.

    Part 2: If you feel like saying or doing something
    that might possibly displease someone, see Part 1.

    So, to obey the Rule of Nice at all times, you have to
    get pretty good at *not* being authentic. But being
    inauthentic is not very nice, so the only way to win
    this game is not to play it!

    Children are naturally authentic, which means they
    often aren't "nice." You're supposed to pressure them
    to obey the Rule of Nice, but wouldn't it be nicer to
    let them inspire *you* to be more authentic?

  3. Great post, I thoroughly agree (wrote a post on sharing a few months ago). I'm featuring this on the Sunday Parenting Party this week and pinning to the pinterest board (you can grab an I was featured button from my blog button page if you;'d like one)

  4. I'm looking for blogger with kids site who would like to contribute a few of theirs posts to my new blog Kidz Patch. Please see here for more details -

  5. Beautifully written.

    I would love for you to link it - and your other positive parenting posts - up at Empty Your Archive link party - there is a special focus this week on positive behaviour, Alice @ Mums Make Lists x

  6. Great thoughts. Thank you for sharing this at the HomeAcre Hop! Look forward to seeing you tomorrow:



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