Whether or not you have siblings, it's likely that at some point or another you were told to share your toys. But one mum wants to rethink that message.
Alanya Kolberg posted to Facebook last week about an interaction she and her son had with other children at the park.
"As soon as we walked in the park, Carson was approached by at least 6 boys, all at once demanding that he share his transformer, Minecraft figure, and truck," she wrote. "He was visibly overwhelmed and clutched them to his chest as the boys reached for them. He looked at me.
'You can tell them no, Carson,' I said. 'Just say no. You don't have to say anything else.'"
When her son told the boys that they couldn't play with his toys, they ran to Kolberg to tell her that Carson wasn't sharing.
"I said, 'He doesn't have to share with you. He said no. If he wants to share, he will,'" she wrote. Her words earned her dirty looks from other parents, according to Kolberg, likely for going against a commonly held lesson — that kids should always be told to share their things.
"Whose manners are lacking here," Kolberg wondered. "The person reluctant to give his 3 toys away to 6 strangers, or the 6 strangers demanding to be given something that doesn't belong to them, even when the owner is obviously uncomfortable?"
People seem to resonate with her message, which has more than 200,000 shares as of writing.
She goes on to claim that we should be teaching children how to function like adults, who would never ask a stranger to use something that doesn't belong to them. She uses a sandwich as an example (what stranger would ask another stranger for their sandwich?) but the same could be said of technology or other objects comparable to Carson's toys.
But the big question here is: should we actually be treating children like adults?
Learning to share can be an important lesson for kids, who will need to grow up knowing that it's sometimes okay to lend other people their stuff or to collaborate on projects. And it's easy to see why those boys were so excited that someone brought new toys to the playground. The playground is a place where kids go to play together, even kids who don't already know each other, and someone who brings new toys offers even more exciting things to play with.
But still, Kolberg's post makes an important point about allowing yourself to say "no." The issue here might not that Carson should never learn to share — he should and has — but that he needed to say "no" in the moment.
Kolberg wrote in her post that she and Carson were meeting a friend and their daughter at the park that day. Carson brought his toys to share with the little girl — who we can see in the picture Kolberg attached with her post — so that they could play together.
It's clear from the photo that Carson knows how to share, and is happy to, but that he simply didn't want to ruin his surprise by sharing with those boys first. He needed to say "no" to them so that he could play with his friend.
So while Kolberg told Carson that day at the park that he doesn't have to share his things every time someone wants to share them, her post doesn't really seem to be about sharing at all. It's about learning to say "no" when it's important for your own well-being, which is a lesson more of us could use.
"While I do know some adults who clearly never learned how to share as children, I know far more who don't know how to say no to people, or how to set boundaries, or how to practice self-care," Kolberg wrote. "Myself included."