Thursday, May 29, 2008

What's mine is yours

Our new inside-out, backward method:
If one of the boys asks the other for a toy, he has to give it to the asker.
We're all familiar with the concept of sharing. Share, share, share with your brother. Why don't you find something else for him to play with? Can't you give him one of those too? You have three already.
I realized that this is not a very Biblical approach. Yes, sharing is great, but in so many cases, it's glossed over as this gracious attitude of "Okay, you can play with it...don't break it, don't take it home with you, play with it how I want you to, etc. What about turning this on its head? I mean, the concept of sharing is virtually impossible to teach to a 2-year-old or younger anyway, so how about the concept of giving? I think we shy away from it because, well, it's not fair to the kid. That's not biblical either.
So the boys (Sam and Caleb) were practicing with a car tonight.
One would say, "May I have that please?"
The other would give it and then say, "I'm giving this to you because I love you."
The first would then respond, "Thank you, Caleb." or "Thank you, Sam." Have you noticed how the use of a name adds respect and caring for that person?
Anyway, you might think this is a tad too sickeningly sweet, and it was pretty funny watching them practice it, but I figured I wanted them to know the "why" behind the action, not just see it as a new rule.
They both really get it, especially Sam, and have enjoyed this new concept, at least tonight.
I tried to explain that there's the added element of consideration for the person you're asking for a toy from. You want to give them a chance to play with it before you ask for it back. But the rule stands. And I want to not jump in as much as possible. We'll see how it goes!


The Greene's said...

While I agree with the concept of giving (and sharing), I'm wondering if this will cause confusion/conflict in other play situations (church)? Will the boys expect to be given a toy without question in those situations? Have you talked about what to do/say when another child is unwilling to share/give?

Sarah said...

We haven't specifically, no. But they do know that this is kind of "our" thing and would not expect other kids to do the same.

The Greene's said...

Ahhh, that answers that :) Hopefully they can just be good models in other situations!

lance said...

I don't claim to be an expert at this kid training endeavor, but I do like the manners you're teaching your sons through this sharing dialogue - because this is the age when good habits (or bad ones) begin to stick.

A quick story...
My grandpa was visiting last Spring (2007) and found a Radio Flyer scooter at a garage sale. He fixed it up and repainted it and left it for Hans. Hans learned to ride it eventually.
My parents also dug out the 'old' Radio flyer scooter that my youngest brother rode some 13-14 years ago...and, for awhile Hans could choose which one to ride.
Esther wanted to ride those scooters before she could walk, and in fact she did ride them easily a month or so before taking off on her own feet.
We anticipated a sharing conflict, because human nature always tells us that the paint is redder (or, more red) on the other kid's scooter.
Basically it boiled down to Hans or Esther wanting to choose what they wanted and take whichever model they weren't currently riding.
We removed both kids from the scooters and judged whomever seemed to have the sinister attitude in a given case and then gave the other child the choice between the two scooters (This was even before they talked much, although that has changed greatly in the last couple months).
They were allowed to go a couple laps around the kitchen island and then switch. We gave them no option but to share and take turns. There was one confrontation that I remember with both kids fighting and I said, "fine, if you won't share then neither one of you gets to ride until tomorrow". I hid the scooters in the basement and that seemed to get the message across. If you can't share, Daddy takes it away. I think there is more to be discovered here and I'm in the beginnings of a study on God as Father and what it would look like for me to raise my children the way He would.

I believe we share for the same reasons and by the same example for conduct as when we forgive(Colossians 3:13).
God, who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all; and Jesus, who loved us and gave himself for us (Romans 8:31-32, Galatians 2:20). We are to forgive as the Lord forgave us just like we are to share because God really owns everything anyway and gave us the best he had even though he knew some would reject and scorn the gift. Imagine if God had said, "I'll send my Son but don't break him". In fact even centuries before He said quite the opposite...

The Mulvihills said...

Will you share your car with me! :)
I'm just teasing you, Sarah!

Sarah said...

We could get our kids the EXACT same of something to try to avoid conflict and they'll inevitably find a way to identify "MINE".
With identical pairs of sunglasses, one had a barely audible squeak when you unfolded them.
"Those are MINE!!!"

Lance said...

Yeah, I don't think the exact same strategy works, because it's still a heart issue. We could train our kids like rats or puppies but that would only end up leaving lots of saliva on the floor.
The scooters aren't identical, just similar, but both are perfectly usable.
So I think it still comes down to modeling - I need to show them what it looks like to share the last cookie even if I deep down want it for myself.
If I can't share something that I've been blessed with then I have a selfish attitude and I'm actually in danger of destroying the blessing for myself while I'm also witholding it from others.

Sarah said...

There's also the aspect of "greater reward" that I think they can be made aware of. They can choose the last cookie now, or they can choose to wait for their reward in heaven.