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My mother and father had 5 siblings each.
I have two.
My daughter has none.
(All thanks to societal graduation from joint to nuclear to solitary!)
…and there begins the trouble.
Trouble of raising a ‘non-sharing’ kid.
We bring toys, she is the sole possessor. Someone gifts chocolates, they are all hers. Books, clothes, space, belongings and even love – my single child has always had it all for herself.
Obviously it is not her who is to be blamed. The setup has been like this; situations and surroundings never made her learn to share or giveaway. Whatever was there, it was hers.
Initially, I never paid much heed or considered it a threat to my parenting whenever she refused to part with any of her toys or share the candy with her howling friend.
I brushed it away as innocence. All children do that.
As she grew from a toddler to a school goer, I realised the situation is still the same. Rather worsened. Now, she never wanted to share what she likes, even with us, parents!
The other day, she was having her favourite ice cream and I asked for a bite. She plainly said ‘No’!
I felt bad. Actually hurt.
Few days later I overheard her conversation with a friend who had come down to play. The ‘guest’ friend was requesting my daughter to lend her Wimpy Kid’s latest book for a day. She was almost pleading but my daughter wasn’t budging from a NO.
I completely lost it when we were out in a hot day and there was just a cup of cold water left in her water bottle. She started drinking it and midway I asked her to leave some for me as well. I was aghast and furious when she said ‘No mamma, I am too thirsty. You buy your own bottle when you see a shop”.
And then and there, I decided that I have to make some stern decisions before my sweet child turns callous for us and the society.
I charted few rules and made them loud and clear to her.
Rules – For Her, For Us
Rule #1 – It became a mandate to make equal divisions whenever there is a ‘special’ treat at home. I made sure to make three equal portions of 2 gulab jamuns, 1 bar of chocolate or any leftover ice cream in the tub.
(Although most of the times we gave her our own share as well but it wasn’t ‘understood or taken for granted’ like before.)
Rule #2 – We tried to lead by example. Every time me or my husband were having something, we made it a point to ask her for a bite. We constantly tried to make her realise that one has to ask others around when eating something.
Rule #3 – At the end of every season, we did this fun thing. We gathered old toys, outgrown clothes and unused items, stacked them in big bags and stored in our car’s trunk. Whenever we spotted somebody who could use anything from our collection, we stopped the car and gave it to him.
Rule #4 – We even had to put in use the old adage – ‘Have a taste of your own medicine’. At times we even said NO to her if she asked for a particular thing we are having. After which, we made her sit and understand how and what it feels when somebody says No to you?
(Trust me it worked!)
Even after setting out regulations and restrictions, the magic did not happen overnight. We faced a lot of cribbing, bad moods, sulking and a whole lot of crying. But we withstood the difficult period and steadily she learned to share and began to relish the joy of giving.