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!
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