Recently there was a post on social media that got some attention, where a mother defended her son’s choice not to share with other kids in the playground. I couldn’t help but disagree… and thought up at least 5 reasons why. The long and short of it is that sharing is a vital life skill. It’s something toddlers and children need to learn to make and keep friends and play cooperatively. Later, once our children start having playdates and going to child care, preschool or kindergarten, we quickly notice how adept they are to the concept of letting others have (even if for a little bit) something that’s theirs.
1. Sharing is the spark for social interaction
Ever since human beings first walked the earth, sharing has been a part of life as we know it. For cavemen, sharing was used to both promote friendship and also occasionally to promote survival of the group.Back when food was scarce and involved a large expenditure of energy to acquire, such that should one tribe member have a large amount of food, he could be expected as a member of the tribe, to share this food with the other members. In this way, he would be preventing that tribe from potentially dying of starvation. Sharing was also used as a way to secure a mate, by sharing his or her food with another, singular tribe member, that same tribe member would feel indebted towards the provider while also seeing him as powerful; not only did he hold the food, he also had the will to share it.
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Back when food was scarce and involved a large expenditure of energy to acquire, such that should one tribe member have a large amount of food, he could be expected as a member of the tribe, to share this food with the other members. In this way, he would be preventing that tribe from potentially dying of starvation. Sharing was also used as a way to secure a mate, by sharing his or her food with another, singular tribe member, that same tribe member would feel indebted towards the provider while also seeing him as powerful; not only did he hold the food, he also had the will to share it.
Nowadays, in developed countries, food is no longer an issue and even though sharing it does not usually play such a part in securing a partner, sharing and what it signifies is no less important. From an early age, children are taught and encouraged to share between one another and a greedy child is often left alone by the other children. It has been statistically proven that children who are kinder and share more with the other children develop a much more beneficial social life than those that do not.
2. Sharing creates a healthy flow, which leads to building a community
In the workplace, sharing is also important. Many businesses find that the sharing of tasks and challenges increases the overall productivity of the business which in turn can generate more profit. Humans share in lots of everyday situations beyond the workplace or school. Sharing creates a sense of unity and bonding between friends and family and sometimes complete strangers – many acts of kindness involve sharing of some kind. Sharing also creates mutual trust between people and it has been said for a long time that trust is the first building block of a friendship. For example, if someone was to ask you if they could borrow a small sum of money, if you accepted, you would be placing trust in them that they will eventually return it and that should you ever be in need, they would return the favor.
3. Sharing is emotionally fulfilling
The emotional side of sharing is also very important. Sharing with others can make us feel happier, and indeed, it has been shown that those who share and are kinder to other human beings live happier and longer lives. This feeling of satisfaction is generally intensified depending on the number of people you are giving to or sharing with. The recipients of your gesture will feel gratitude and you will have a sense of mutual understanding.
4. Sharing is key to long-lasting friendship
Sharing is a valuable tool in creating and maintain friendships, trust, and unity. In an already existing friendship, one where unity has developed, sharing can be a means of reinforcing that unity ensuring that each person feels the same sense of gratitude and that the unconditional unity remains exactly that; unconditional.
5. Sharing leads to emotional growth
So what if our children share a toy and lose their favorite toy? What is important is the experience, and even more so, the lessons learned. By having, sharing and losing a toy, kids can start developing a sense of detachment that – truth be told – not even some adults possess. Encourage sharing regardless of bad experiences, and discuss the event with your children, always letting him or her know that their effort to share and socialize did not go unnoticed.
Do we share enough?
It is worth remembering next time you don’t feel like sharing something, that sharing is powerful human experience and central to your wellbeing! Most importantly, it’s the single most efficient way to teach kids about sharing. Remember, our kids are ALWAYS watching…
about the author
Mary Ann Nevis is an accomplished educator in the private sector since 1992, specializing in early education and counseling for children ages 5 to 10. Aside from being a school teacher and writer, she is also a mother of 3 and avid collector of books and antiques, with over 700 books in her study alone! Now that’s what we call #bookproud.