Learning to share with others can be difficult for little kids because they easily get attached to everything they like, be it a toy or something they like to eat. But sharing is an important lesson to be taught and practised with children.
I got my first lesson in sharing when me and my brother were little kids. In those days, children used to distribute toffees in the class at school on their birthdays. Our mother would tell us to bring 1 toffee home for the other one whenever we get 2 toffees in such a birthday celebration.
The rule was if you get 1 toffee, you can have it yourself at school. If you get 2, bring both the toffees home and share 1 with your brother/sister.
And we followed this rule very diligently.
The mango season used to be our favourite of all the seasons in the year. Every year, during this time, one calendar in the house (it was the house of 80s when each room proudly owned a calendar) would get dedicated to the record keeping of who had the pulpy mango seed (aam ki guthli) last time. Our mother was the record keeper who would scribble our names below the dates on which we had the bliss of savouring that pulpy mango seed.
Her rule was if one day I had eaten the pulp then it would me my brother’s turn to have it the next time.
She would never cut more than one mango at a time to let us, her kids, share that mango and learn to take turns honestly with respect to the mango seed. Occasionally, one of us did try to cheat but we always had the calendar and mummy for checking on our cheating instincts
Fast forward to present times.
Dhruv is a single child. Since he has everything to himself there has been bit of an issue with sharing.
Whenever, I would give him his favourite foods like strawberries, biscuits, cashews etc to eat and would ask him if he would like to share one piece with me. He would never say yes. But I never stopped asking. On the other hand, when I would sit with my tea and biscuits, he would come to me, pick up one biscuit asking me “Can I share?”
Initially, I made fun of him “Aha…Dhruv, you would not share with me yourself but everytime you come asking me? I will also not share with you”. After saying so and making fun 2 or 3 times, I realised my folly. This way I was reinstating negative behaviour. I mended my ways.
Later when he would come to me picking up my biscuit at tea time asking if he can share, I delightfully began to tell him “Yes you can. Mama will share her biscuit with Dhruv. It is fun to share”. Having done this a number of times I saw positive changes taking place. Dhruv started to say Yes more than often to my sharing requests. Lesson for me was to always keep an hawk eye over my own ways of dealing with situations and correcting them if required as early as possible.
I took a step further. Its been 4 months since Dhruv started nursery school and he had still not developed liking to go to school. He is a child who enjoys a lot just being on his own and would not necessarily reach out to make friends. I talked to him that I will put 2 cookies in his snack box and when it is snack time at school, he should eat one and share the other one with another child. “Sharing makes friends”. Its been a week now doing this and I have got 5 new names of children from his class, which I had never heard in the past 4 months, with whom he said he shared his cookie. These days just the mention of sharing a cookie in snack time gets him ready for school without any whining.
Our conversation one day –
(Dhruv was sitting with a bowl of grapes)
Dhruv: Mama, do you want to have a grape?
Me: Thanks for sharing Dhruv.
Dhruv: Mama and Dhruv have become friends.
I can sense something is brewing up for the better.
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