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Friday, April 18, 2008

It's Mine!

We’ve all heard it. Golden silence followed by the high pitch wail of “It’s mine!!!” Which is than answered with the same sentiment, “It’s mine!!!” The phrase that causes us all to cringe. If we didn’t have to deal with it, we probably wouldn’t. But inevitably, it’s is a situation we all take care of sooner or later.

Sharing is extremely difficult for young children. If you think about it, it can be quite difficult for us as well. How many of us will find some excuse not share that last piece of chocolate cake with someone else? Or to explain in some round about way that you can’t let someone help you because you have it all under control? Not that you actually do, but this way you don’t have to compromise. It’s hard, and if it’s hard for us, imagine a preschooler who thinks the whole world belongs to them.

Preschoolers are naturally self-centered individuals. Hey, they have been totally doted on their whole existence and it’s worked well so far. To find out that it will not continue forever is really going to take some getting used to. Sharing is not a skill that comes naturally. It has to be taught just like the ABC’s.

This year has been quite a year for us in the sharing department. For our three-year-old class, our first few months are devoted to realizing that there are others around, but not enough of one toy for everyone. I had a little girl this year that was sure that anything she touched during the course of the day was hers. No matter how long ago she touched it, she would become extremely upset is someone else touched it. For example, she might have been playing with a doll; she put the doll down and moved on to the blocks. If she turned around and saw someone else with that doll, “AAAHHH! She’s got my doll.” This has been an ongoing work in progress. She‘s gotten better, but most of her playthings travel around the classroom with her.

At school we have found it easiest to use a timer. It is much easier for the children to be able to see something tangible and know a specific result will occur at a specific time. Generally, it works pretty well. The user of a certain plaything is usually pretty good at handing that item off when the timer rings. Does it work 100% of the time? Does anything we try? We have one little boy that no matter how hard we try, those trains are not coming out of his hand. With him it helps to make sure that he has more cars of the train then the other person. It’s not easy, but you can’t give up.

You also should realize that waiting for the toy is just as hard as giving up the toy. We get asked quite often, “Is it time yet?” It is good to have the timer so the children can “see” how much longer they have to wait. They may not understand how long it’s going to take to get to 0, but they know the end is in sight and the coveted item will soon be theirs.

I know it’s hard, but just keep at it. It’s like toilet training (which we won’t get in to). You keep trying and trying, and eventually it happens. Now, I have to go get that piece of cake out of the fridge before someone comes home.

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