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Why Sharing is often not ‘Caring’

The media is filled with tips and strategies to ‘improve our emotional wellbeing’. The New Year, the New Me. Healthy Habits, taking control of what is important to us, spending quality time on ourselves.

Shouldn’t this translate to our littlest family members?

We often ask our child to give their toy to another, “give it to your brother, he’s smaller than you, say hello to the man/lady/ unfamiliar adult. Share your candy”.

As adults we often seem to require our children to act as though they are little adults. Follow socially accepted norms, use customary greetings. What must be remembered is, they aren’t, in fact, little adults, they are developing minds, strengthening bodies and people who have been in existence for a very limited amount of days, 365, 730, 1,095.

Children need to be selfish to their own needs first, they need to experiment with the world around them without being bound by adult boundaries or expectations. It is essential to allow your child time to explore a toy or an item for their desired length of time, they may have never held a toy tractor before, or even just never held that specific toy tractor. In nurseries and schools, desirable toys need to be plentiful and varied as children wanting and waiting for a specific toy, can be encouraged for a while with another.

Each child has the right to learn the things they need in their life and what gives them joy. There are times when a child picks a toy, looks for a moment, discovering if it has value, meaning, or connection to them, then discards it. That toy did not have the ‘zing’, the factor of interest for them. However, to find this out, they had to touch, they had to roll, they had to squish that item.

For many years, teachers and educators have used the words ‘Sharing is Caring,’ it can be, it can be valuable to understand the needs and feelings of others. It can be important to recognise that our actions have effects on others.

Though, when you are two, it is of significant importance to understand your own needs first, your own motivations. At this age, you have barely begun to discover what makes you happy, what helps you think, what guides your interest.

Whilst allowing your child to find out who they want to be, you can offer a huge range of suggestions, but above all, be the great role model.

Try these: –

  • If you have finished a call, hand the mobile to your husband and ask would he like to make a call?
  • When you open a door in a public space, hold it open a little longer than usual and allow 2 or 3 people to flow through, as they say “thank you”, respond “you’re welcome.”
  • Whilst playing with your child, verbally admire the toy they have “I love that toy kitty, I’m going to use it later when you are done.”

By acting as the role model, we share behaviours that are favourable and give our children ideas of what happens as a consequence of the things we do.

Try not to expect your child to automatically do any of these things, children are not our mirrors.

What we aim for is that our children slowly connect to desirable and favourable experiences….

….. I remember when I gave my friend a toy after I had used it and they smiled at me.

Above all try to remember, every child needs time to make ideas about their own world, afford them that time, often.


Laura Partanen
Nursery Manager
JINS Al Safa