sand digging

How not to teach your child to share

So, all parents have different ways of teaching their children values and behaviour, but I have to say that my recent experience when we went to the playground in Stratford-upon-Avon the other week really proved that some have a warped idea of behaving well in front of their children.

Our group had three 3 year old boys in, although N and his best friend L tended to follow each other around.  There’s a great sandpit area with equipment in, and the boys had noticed this brilliant digger seat.  There were actually two of them, but one was broken. 

I was stood some way back, but could see where the two of them were when they were playing.  There was one older boy playing with the digger, so off their own back, N and his friend stood nearby and waited patiently for their turn.  No hassling, just waiting together in silence.

waiting in line at the park

They’d been waiting a while and I was really impressed that they’d stood for that long without giving up and going off to play on something else so wandered over to check they were ok.  N turned to me and asked

‘it’s our turn next mummy?’

‘Yes. That’s nice waiting in the queue, you’ll be next when the other boy’s finished’.

I reckoned it might have been a long wait given he was showing no signs of budging, but N seemed fine to wait.

Next thing, the mum of the boy turns up with Grandma and a younger sibling in tow.   N again asked me if they were next to go, and I said yes. 

She waited a while, then told the son on the digger, ‘couple more minutes, then let your brother have a go’.  I just knew when she turned up, that’s what she’d been expecting to happen, but after N and his friend had been waiting patiently for so long, I wasn’t having any of that.

‘I think these 2 boys are next in the queue.  They’ve been waiting patiently for a while now’.  Seemed to me like a reasonable reminder that there were actually people waiting.  But obviously not as she and the Grandma immediately launched into me.

‘He’s not been on it for long, he was waiting ages too, his brother’s here, they’ve been hassling him’

Errr.  Well, I’m not one to give in, and I didn’t see why, if the brother wanted a go, they didn’t wait there so we knew there was a longer wait.  Or at least left the grandmother there to tell people while the mum took the younger child off to play.  As for hassling?  Standing nearby so they could jump on when he got off.  Not once did they try and get on it, and I didn’t suggest that the child let others have a go.

‘They don’t mind the wait, I’m saying that they have been waiting in line, and there was no one else ahead of us or here waiting.  It’s about them learning to take their turn, and was something they chose to do on their own’.

Thankfully they didn’t swear, but they turned round and slated me with various comments like ‘we’re all teaching our children to share’.  Hmmph, possibly not if you’re not teaching them to wait in line.  A tirade of various other remarks about sharing and pushing in front of people (pot and kettle anyone?!).  And then as they marched off with both children, firing at me as they walked away, ‘If that’s the worst thing you’ve got to worry about then you’re lucky’.

At least the boys got to have their turn in order.  I was just mortified that this mum had launched into me (along with the grandmother) in front of her children.  If they’d been stood waiting when the boys went over to the digger, I’d have suggested that N and his friend might have to wait too long, and encouraged them to find something else to play on before coming back later.

sand digging

Thankfully the boys didn’t turn round and ask why I was being shouted at, and didn’t seem phased by it at all.  They just wanted to go on the digger.

riding and driving the digger

What made me chuckle was that N and his friend definitely aren’t toy hoggers as they get bored quickly.  So after waiting almost 10 minutes to have a go, they probably only had about a minute each.  I’m sure the other child could have waited that long for his go!

Have you ever had situations like that?  How do you encourage waiting in line?

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  1. What horrid behaviour! I’d have tried to do the same as you I think – it’s not fair to push in – if the other one couldn’t be patient then he doesn’t get the go.

    1. Exactly. I feel the same. But obviously there’s people that just think well if one child’s there, then they’re saving the space for the other one. What’s annoying is the digger thing was really hard work and heavy for N and his friend, and they were at least a year older than this other sibling. So there’s no way he’d have been able to play anyway.

  2. I’ve been in similar situations many times and like you, I cannot help myself but say something, especially if their behaviour towards my child is unjust! I think it teaches them to stick up for themselves in later life – you did the right thing.

  3. Oh dear. I have been in a situation in a playground before and it was really horrible. I am glad to hear that they didn’t swear at you…when it happened to me there was a lot of swearing. I was so shaken by it I had to take the kids home and I have never been back to that park. Anything like this is a reminder of what some people can be like. Shocking!

    1. People can be so nasty in front of children. I was expecting swearing so was pleased not to get it. I think I’d have been the same as you leaving if they’d done the same to me.

  4. Playground politics – just the worst. I was accused of being racist by one mum once and I still don’t know why. I was so shocked at the time that I just stood there and took her abuse – didn’t go back to that playground for a while! I think it was because I had told my little one (I only had one at the time and she was only about 2) to wait for something while her child had a go on it – also mine was so shy at the time that she would literally crawl off a slide if another child started to come and use it so I often used to wait until all the other kids were off that bit of equipment but it was just because my kid was so shy and scared of other kids – not because we didn’t approve of them – grrr. Still grates now seven years later!

    1. Didn’t work for that family though.

      N’s really good at sharing without being prompted. I used to worry he was too nice and would just hand toys over to kids who grabbed them off him, but now he’s just fair.

  5. Oh, I’m so useless at confrontation! I was recently at a park with the wee girl and there was a big group of mums who had obviously arranged to meet. They all had toddlers similar in age to the wee girl. Every time she tried to play with something one of the other children would come and take it away from her… None of the other mums even noticed, too busy chatting, and despite me commenting a couple of times to the wee girl, it’s ok it will be your turn next, none of them batted an eye. To be honest, in the end we left… The wee girl is just two and it’s a tricky age, they really haven’t got the hang of sharing yet, but they won’t learn if they never have too!

    1. So hard as you don’t want to be the one making the ‘scene’. I’d probably be the one who’d just take the toys back off the others and explain they’d have to wait their turn. But a lot harder to do that when there’s a group of parents together who aren’t noticing. Just plain rude. But yes, you’re right, 2yo is that awkward age where sharing doesn’t mean anything to them

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