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  • 'My Daughter May Not Want to Share Right Now, But It Doesn't Mean She's Madamot'

    A mom worries that other parents might judge her toddler as “madamot.”
    by Mary Jane Pujanes .
'My Daughter May Not Want to Share Right Now, But It Doesn't Mean She's Madamot'
PHOTO BY iStock
  • “Share your toys, anak.”
    “Let them borrow your things.”

    We often say these words to our toddlers, but they still refuse to share. The only answer we get is, “No. Mine!” When this happens, we can’t help but worry. Are they becoming selfish at an early age? Will they stay like this until they grow up? Of course, not!

    As a mother, we want to teach our kids good manners as early as possible. We want them to be respectful and compassionate. But my daughter and her playmates are at an age when they don’t know how to share yet. And like any toddler with an absorbent mind, she likes to copy the other kids — she also refuses to share.

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    One time, I was bothered by what I saw: my toddler did not let a new kid in the neighborhood borrow her things. She snatched her toys away from the kid — she looked selfsh. I did not like that this was the image she projected to the kid’s mom. The mom might think that my child is “madamot.”

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    Then, I remembered Maria Montessori’s philosophy on sharing. Instead of telling your toddler, “Anak, let her borrow,” both kids — borrower and the borrowee — need to be taught the concept of waiting for their turn.

    Sharing is a big word for kids. It must come from them naturally, just like how they learned to walk and talk. Imagine this: You are so focused on reading a book you love so much, then somebody just got if from you. Wouldn’t you be frustrated? 

    I realized it’s wrong for me to think that my toddler, who doesn’t know how to share (yet) just like other kids her age, is selfish. She doesn’t want to give her things to her friends, most especially to strangers, because she is not yet done with the items, which do belong to her. She is just taking her time.

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    So how will our toddlers learn how to share? Learning how to take turns is the first step in sharing, according to Montessori schools. Here’s how I teach my almost 2-year-old the value of sharing.

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    Whenever my daughter Mav is holding something, maybe a toy, and her friend wants to get it, I tell the other kid, “Wait for your turn. Mav’s not yet done with it. She’ll share it with you when she’s done.”

    Since my child hears these words as well, she will know that she can take her time with her toy, but that someone wants to borrow it, too. Whenever she wants to borrow something from her friend, and she won’t be allowed, I tell her to wait for her turn.

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    Whenever she lets someone borrow her things, I try not to say vague words like “very good,” or “good job.” Instead, I tell her “Look how happy your friend is because you shared it with her!” At home, we also practice taking turns by simply passing an object and saying, “Your turn,” “Nanay’s turn,” or “Tatay’s turn.”

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    Whenever she’s holding something I need and she won’t give me, I’ll tell her, “Okay. It’s your turn to use it now, but Nanay is waiting for her turn, too.” Sometimes, I also give her a timer or simply count up to 10, so that she’ll know that it’s my turn and she can count again for her turn. This way, she’ll know that giving something away does not mean it will no longer be returned to her.

    As parents, we need to be the role models. We can do this by simply saying, “Look, Mav. Nanay is smiling because Tatay shared his food with me.”

    It might be a long process, but the result would be as precious as gold — a child who knows how to share not because she’s told to do so, but because it’s her genuine act of kindness.

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