What do you do when other parents force their kids to share?

March 14, 2011 · 41 comments

A prized tricycle is hard to share

A prized tricycle is hard to share

Last week I took my sons to the playground, and when we arrived, another boy was there with his tricycle. My oldest son went towards it like a laser, his attention diverted from everything else.

The other boy, naturally, ran back towards his toy, and vehemently said, “NO THAT’S MINE!!”

I stopped my son, told him that his friend didn’t want to share right now. He had to find something else to play with. He fussed for a minute, but started looking around for something else interesting.

But then . . .

The boy’s grandparents insisted my son ride the tricycle. They told their grandson he had to share, to stop crying, to let others play with his toys. And then they pried him off his bike and held it out for us.

I told them, no, Sebastian wanted to hang on to it right now. My son could wait until he wanted to share, or he could play with other things the whole time we were there. I didn’t want Sebastian to be forced to give up his precious toy.

But before I could say anything else, or move away, the grandmother pushed the tricycle towards us, and the grandfather lifted my son up, and put him on the seat. My son was thrilled, but Sebastian wailed.

I felt terrible.

I let him ride for a few minutes, and then told him it was time to give the toy back to his friend (who had stopped crying, but was silently watching my son, looking glum). Whining ensued.

The grandparents again insisted my son continue to ride, and now the grandfather pushed my son up and down the sidewalk, showing him how to move his legs to push the pedals (which he’s not yet strong enough to do — before he moved the bike by pushing his feet against the ground, and was perfectly happy with that).

None of these were things I would normally do with my children. It made me uncomfortable, but the couple meant well, and were friendly, generous, and kind. I didn’t know what to do, or say.

I ended up not saying anything, and let them play with my boys. I didn’t even say anything to my son afterwards, I don’t think. I was so flustered, I just didn’t know what to do.

What do you think? What would you have done? Is there any way to avoid situations like this or turn them into teaching moments for our kids?

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