Saturday, May 28, 2011

How do you handle sharing?

With the two foster care brothers, ages two and three, staying with us, our four-year-old son struggles at times with sharing.  We break down toys into two broad groups, the general family toys and special toys which belong to a specif person.  Examples of special toys are birthday gifts or items our son bought with his own money.

The family toys have to be shared.  No one can have exclusive use of the toys for long periods of times.  This has been a very hard thing for the three-year-old boy.  We have a couple dozen matchbox cars.  The three-year-old wants all of them. 

For his special toys we give our four-year-old a choice.  He can either put them away or share them.  We do no let him hold a special toy in front of others when he is unwilling to share. 

How do you handle sharing?


Ina's 5 and our Native Homeschool Blog said...

We have special toy too. However there are only allowed to be four per person. If you don't want to share a special toy it gets put away.

The potential issue I see in you situation (Being able to personally relate to the foster brothers) is what kind of special toys do those boys have? It can be hard to not have something special of your own band it can be hard to share when it seems the while world has more then you.

Hope that helps.

Henry Cate said...

You make a good point about the potential issue of having too many special toys.

We have a fair number of family toys so the two brothers have not lacked. And for the most part our son don't get possessive very often. It is kind of funny, yesterday he got real upset about the three-year-old using our son's spiderman dinner plate. But our son hasn't worried too about other toys that are clearly hits.

The one or two times it has been a problem we just quietly put the special toy away and the brothers may not have even noticed what was going out. They are often fairly clueless at times.

abba12 said...

I suppose I have a slightly different take on sharing. Can I have your car keys and have a turn of your car? Hop off the computer, it's my turn now. You won't let me on? Well you can't be on it either then, go put it away.

As adults sharing comes with conditions, we share things, but with people we trust, people who are responsible, where there is a need. Children seem to be expected to share just because. He trusts his siblings, he trusts his friends, but these boys have been forced on him and he barely knows them, let alone trusts them. Especially if the foster kids have some behavioural issues, he may be afraid they will break something. He dosen't get a choice who he shares his house with, but he sees himself as having a choice over his things, at least some of them. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against foster care, but the original children can, at times, struggle with the changes in dynamic.

He may also be struggling suddenly having two younger brothers. As the youngest I'm sure he got a fair bit of attention, time with mum and dad, etc. Now you have two younger ones to worry about and he may feel left out, like they've taken over, two strangers have stolen all his mum and dads time. I'm sure you're involving him in things too, but time that he may have originally gotten alone he now has with the younger boys as well. Perhaps that's why he got so upset over the spiderman plate, that was his special thing, note, 'his' (at least in his mind) and 'special', and it was given to one of the 'intruders'. Like they're taking his place.

I'd say he just needs some reassurance really, and as far as the sharing thing goes, try to be understanding.

Henry Cate said...

One of the things we're trying to avoid is have a special toy out and the other two boys only allowed to see it and never touch it or play with it. It would be like waving a red flag in front of a bull.

We don't force our son to share any of "his" toys. But if he wants to play with them he has to either share, or go upstairs and play by himself or with his sisters.

I'm sure there is a little feeling on his part of being displaced, but he is having a great time playing with the two boys. It is kind of funny, when the three-year-old gets placed in timeout our son will stop playing and go sit beside the boy, waiting until the timeout is over.