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The benefits of teaching your children to share

Dear Editor:
Here’s the scene. both children are contented, then one child realizes the other child has a toy that he would like to have and either grabs for it, or asks. If the second child doesn’t roll over and relinquish the toy, the first begins to whine. An adult then steps in and tells the child with the toy, “Oh Johnny, we must share.” The adult  finally cajoles the child into relinquishing the toy he was playing with to the whiner and the adult goes back to reading the paper, Facebook, cooking, or whatever.

That’s easy. it’s over in less than a minute. But what has happened is rather than teaching the one child to “share” the other child has been taught, “If you want something, just whine and you’ll get it.” I never want my children to learn that you get things by whining. Instead they should be taught to be contented with what they have and not to be jealous of what others have. They need to learn the principles of property.

And If they find themselves in the position of the child being asked to share, I would want them to know that they have no duty or obligation to share but that it is a virtue to do so. If you’ve been playing with the dump truck for 30 minutes it would be kind to let your sister or your friend play with it a little while. If it has been an hour, it goes from being a virtue to being merely decent, like not taking the last drumstick at supper when you know that not everyone has gotten a piece of chicken.

The point is that sharing is a choice. not an obligation. And if my son wants to play with a toy that my daughter has, he should ask, and if she says no, the lesson is for my son to be content and to honor the “no” rather than to teach my son to whine and my daughter to give in.

Andrew Hayes

The Lawton Constitution

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