Sharing is difficult at any age, especially in a proprietary and materialistic society like ours. Parents of young children particularly need to relax about sharing, or the lack thereof. Most young children conceptualize everything in their worlds as extensions of their corporeal beings; their toys, their food, their parents, the views out their windows. I cringe when kids are categorized as ‘good’ sharers or ‘bad’ sharers. Asking a three year old to willingly hand over a toy is like asking them to cut off their arm and give it away. Yes. Ouch. In my opinion, sharing should be considered a developmental stage, something to encourage but not force, like walking or talking, or using the potty.
Some kids move in to a more fluid acceptance of sharing sooner than others. So please, try to limit the comparisons, pointing out the ‘good’ sharer while your kid bear hugs their toy truck so tightly you fear for his circulation. Instead, read a book like Tad Hills Duck & Goose and let these adorable characters ‘float’ the message without shaming or blaming.
Duck and Goose meet when they both happen upon a polka-dot ball at the same time. They think it’s a giant egg, which adds a whole other hilarious dimension to their story. What’s great about Duck & Goose is how nuanced the sharing/not sharing subject is explored. These little feathery guys are not one-dimensional “MINE MINE MINE” characters. Sure Duck and Goose squabble, try to one-up each other, not unlike toddlers and pre-schoolers, but they also try hard to be polite and struggle to think of solutions to the conundrum of having just one ball. Like human kids Duck and Goose crave social contact and thrive on friendship. But they’re stubborn little devils. They ultimately work their differences out without sacrificing their strong wills. They are imperfectly perfect, and the kind of role models this Parenting Expert can support.
Valuable lessons aside, I also love Duck & Goose because of the way Hills has married colorful, playful illustrations with sweet, funny, but never cloying prose. Support your local bookstore or library and go get a copy now.
Here’s the link to the Duck & Goose flickr page that shows the book and the accolades that it’s received.
And here is the Amazon page link for all of the Duck & Goose books.
This was first published in A Child Grows in Brooklyn on February 17, 2011