Recently I was on the beach and while sitting there I observed so many wonderful things: the people, the children playing, the waves, sand creations, seashells, ships, and the seagulls.
I found the seagulls especially interesting. When the smallest scrap of food was dropped on the sand, there was an immediate descent of about 20 seagulls. As they all scrambled for the piece of food I could hear the gulls in my mind all speaking from the movie film, “Finding Nemo” saying,”Mine, mine, mine, mine.” It was rather humorous.
One day, a seagull swooped down and took away a child’s toy in his beak. The little boy ran after the seagull yelling, “Hey, you come back here and give me back my toy.” The seagull was not one bit concerned and flew off with the toy into the wild blue yonder. The child was left understandably upset.
As is often the case, God’s creatures teach us about how we humans behave. When children are first learning to speak, it is not uncommon that one of their first words they learn is “mine.” Isn’t it amazing how quickly that sets in?!
Raising my own children, it would happen over and over that a toy would be sitting somewhere and no one cared about it until one of them picked it up. Now they all wanted it and would be pulling on it yelling, “mine.” Sound familiar?
Well, the way I dealt with this was what you all try to do — Teach them to share. I would make sure they all got a short turn with it. I would say “ding ding” when their time was up, and they had to hand it over kindly to the other child. Sometimes I was able to get them to play with it together, attempting to teach them that it’s more fun to play together than alone. That worked….sometimes. But from the time they were toddlers I would work on the sharing.
However, when they got older, like around 4 or 5 years old, I would let them have some ownership of things. For example, when it was one of their birthdays and they got some gifts, then those belonged to the birthday child. The other children were not allowed to just come and take it without asking permission of the child who owned it.
Think of us as adults. We wouldn’t want someone to just borrow our radio, couch, car, without asking (unless there was an understanding that that is fine with you). If the person asked permission and it worked out, hopefully we could share with them.
So, too, with children — if they ask, “May I use your toy?” hopefully all our earlier training in sharing will kick in, and the owner of the toy will allow it. It teaches respect on both sides because the one borrowing it has the responsibility to return it in good condition or there are consequences (like replacing it).
Now sometimes the owner will say, “No, you can’t.” This response may be out of selfishness or they may have a good reason for saying no at that time. In that case, when the borrowing child complained to me, I would just say something like, “Well, it’s his or hers and you need to respect that but perhaps at a later time they will let you use it.” If I notice the child never shares, then I would have a talk about it with that child.
This worked pretty well for me and my kiddos. You may want to try it or not.
It may keep some seagulls from carrying something off into the wild blue yonder.
God bless you
Mary Ann / Mother Hen