The 4 Moms of 35+ Kids are answering reader questions.
How do you teach sharing without forcing it?
I have shared my views on forced sharing before, and I stand by those and believe them strongly, even though I have been called "selfish" for them. (Thanks, "anonymous".)
We have plenty of toys that belong to the whole family, like the Wii and the trampoline, so of course those must be shared. One thing we also do not force is "taking turns" as I have seen some parents enforce it. If little Billy is practicing back flips on the trampoline, and little Sarah comes along, we don't make Billy "take turns". Sarah must wait until Billy is through with his practice. There are plenty of hours in the day when no one is on the trampoline, and we won't allow Sarah to dictate Billy's schedule.
On the other hand, if Billy and Sarah are playing together on the trampoline, they must give each other equal time and opportunity. (If this cannot be worked out among themselves and Mama must intervene, the trampoline is given a time out.)
This works exactly like it does in the adult world. If I go into Walmart and see that someone is using my favorite shopping cart, I do not go to that person and whine, "It's my turn! Share! MAMA!!!" I wait until the cart is available, and if it isn't available on my schedule, that's my tough luck.
If one of our children doesn't want to share a privately owned toy, he may play with it in solitude. Children soon learn that it is fun to play together, and they will share their privately owned toys if they wish to be in the company of others. If they like solitude, and want to keep the private possession private, there is no harm that I can see in that.
Our 16yo son recently bought several different Rubik's cubes and he doesn't share those with anyone, nor do we expect him to. It is private property. I also do not share my cell phone or laptop or glasses with anyone else. I own them. They are mine. If I know of a case that compels me to voluntarily share those, then, of my own free will, I may make that decision. Wouldn't it be ludicrous for someone to force me to share those? How would you feel if it was said that you must let your pastor play with your cell phone for the duration of his visit to your home? Why is it different with toys children have saved for and purchased with their own money?
Interestingly, our children are not selfish or greedy. They do understand property rights, though.
What sort of church services do you attend? How involved do you require the children to be? And at what age do you leave the decision up to them?
Our family attends Bible class and worship assembly on Sundays and Bible class on Wednesday evenings. We keep the children with us during the entire worship assembly, even when "children's church" is available. You can read our thoughts on "children's church" here.
We expect everyone, from infants to teens, to stand, sit, sing, pray, and listen when the worship leader says to stand, sit, sing, pray, and listen. Contrary to popular belief, this is not an impossibility.
Here are some tips for keeping children quiet and still in church, and our eBook, 4 Moms of 35+ Kids Answer Your Parenting Questions, has a handy printable for taking notes during the sermon. It is done with easily recognizable pictures, so even our toddler is able to use this.
Church attendance is non-negotiable, no matter the age.
How do you handle when a young child points out someone's differences, like saying a little person has a big head? Or a woman talks like a man? Or someone is "fat"?
Hoo-boy. I feel for ya on this one. We have one that was gifted at an early age with what we like to call "extreme honesty". She eventually matured and learned discretion, but until then your only hope is to run like the wind in the opposite direction of big-headed people when that child is with you!