I taught my son to be selfish
There has been a lot of summer activities going on lately that I haven’t really taken the time to write and share about my fatherhood journey.
I have been thinking about this for a long time and I am hoping it will help some parents with their toddlers.
So how can teaching your kid selfishness be a good thing?
Well, let me share with you the story how I taught my son to be selfish.
It all started at the playground when he was about to turn two years old. Many of his playmates were older than him by just a few months or a year. At their age, we know that sharing is still a concept they do not understand. A study suggests that children start to understand sharing when they are school age.
It was common to hear at the playground, “No! Mine!” or “Mine! Mine! Mine!” Other toddlers would hear and see it from the others and start copying them.
Of course, as parents we would like our children to learn how to share. It is an important part of living after all. I noticed the good intention of parents to make their toddler share their toy even if their child would feel bad or cry. And it would become a teachable moment about sharing with others.
Is it not what you would also do?
But since my son was diagnosed with GDD, I’ve been thinking differently at times. And I thought, if children will share at a later age, why would I make him share his toys if he does not even understand why it is being given to a different kid?
Instead of teaching him how to share, I made him understand ownership.
Before he learned “Mine!” from the other kids, I taught him how to say it first. Mine. Yours. This toy is yours. This cup is mine. This cracker is yours. This cracker is mine. This bottle of milk is yours. This beer is mine.
I would give my son something that I own and I would take it back and say, “Mine.” You might think it is horrible, but it made perfect sense to me. How can you understand sharing if you do not understand ownership?
You don’t really need to teach a baby or a toddler selfishness because they are naturally selfish. Once they are aware of their “self”, everything is theirs. That milk, the fridge, that flower, you, your wife, and yes, even your bacon is the baby’s.
When my son understood what is his and what is others’, you would assume that next I taught him how to share. Nope, I let him enjoy his possession.
We would go to the playground with his toys, I would let him say,”Mine!” without correcting him. Without teaching him how to share. I did not force him to share his toys because he’s just not ready. I would tell the other kid that it is my son’s toy and he is not ready to share yet.
How can a toddler be ready to learn sharing his toys?
I believe that sharing is not really something that parents should start teaching at the playground.
You should start it at home, after your toddler learns about ownership.
The next step then, is to let your toddler borrow something of yours. And then borrowing something of his. It could be just sharing a cookie together, sharing the couch, borrowing your child’s toy, returning it and borrowing it again.
Returning it is a very important concept that is not to be missed if you would like to avoid breakdowns after playtime. Some toddlers will think it was a trade of toys, which is fine if both parties agree to it. Otherwise, one of the kids will surely be crying and screaming when it’s time to go.
Just don’t expect the ride to go smoothly, it takes time and practice. There will be times when your child would really, really want to borrow his friend’s toy. So make sure you always have a toy ready for trading and let the other parent deal with it when it’s time to exchange back.
Or take the chance to teach your child how to wait.
I tell my son that his friend will let him borrow it later or his friend is still playing with his toy and will share it when he is ready.
This means taking turns. As long as there is prospect for borrowing the toy, your child will wait.
For a very short time. Keep him occupied while waiting for his turn, which could also mean never, so be prepared.
Teaching ownership and turn-taking was really effective for us because our son who will turn three this year already likes sharing his toys and also likes borrowing his friends’ toys. There are still some protests or wet eyes when he can’t borrow the toys but we just get back to asking him about ownership.
The most important thing is, don’t force your child to share if he or she is not yet ready.
How did you teach your child about sharing? Does having a sibling make a difference?
Share your thoughts in the comments!