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Welcome to the seventh edition of Nurture ~ Australia’s Natural Parenting eMagazine. If you prefer print, please head back to the subscribe page on our website. See you on the inside xo

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I was about to write “My son is growing up so fast” but then I stopped after ‘My son’. Where does this terminology come from?William (27 mths) is going through the stage of ‘mine’! “My bike” “My ball” My this, my that. And I wondered where he got it from.

I thought I had been raising him in such a way that we have a community of things but clearly I was wrong. I then noticed more things. When I would talk to him I would say things like “mummy’s car”, “daddy’s car”, “mummy’s knife and William’s knife” (he has a small knife while I have a bigger knife). It is all about possession. This of itself is not so bad, the hard part is the expectation in our society that young children, after learning about “my” things, must share. And as many parents know, this normally ends in an upset!

I guess what has brought this up in my mind is a post on facebook I saw a couple of weeks ago about the African children being told that there was a pile of fruit underneath a tree in the distance and the first person to get there could eat all the fruit.

The person said “go” and all the children held hands and skipped over to the tree and all enjoyed the fruit.

When asked why they didn’t run to get all the fruit, they replied “how can one of us be happy if the rest are not?”. It has really struck a cord with me and since then have realised that even at 27 months old, I have unintentionally taught my son about property being his rather than communal for all to share. When discussing with some people about William’s “my this” and “my that” and the consequential upset when another child wants to play with the item, they have shrugged it off and said “it’s that age isn’t it!”. But is it? And why if “it is that age” do we as a society not accept it and punish children because of it (eg. not sharing)? I often wonder whether children in countries such as Africa and Eastern countries struggle with this “my” at that age and the consequential upset. So I have just taken a few minutes to do some research.

A study in 2003 of a central African tribe found that they are more indulgent with their toddlers than we are with our toddlers.

When given an attractive object: “mothers and older siblings (3-5 year sold) routinely let the toddler (1-3) have the object—and older children often asked their younger sibling for permission to play with the object. If the mother got involved, she gave the object to the toddler 97 percent of the time, without insisting on sharing or turn-taking.

In the rare case when a mother had to intervene, she explained that the toddler “didn’t understand” … Guatemalan mothers expect an older sibling to defer to the toddler for the sake of harmony and good relations. Their parenting style can be understood as a reaction of broader cultural values related to collectivism and interdependence.” Whilst this may seem contrary to us Westerners (who have a preoccupation with requiring toddlers to share), it actually seems to work because:“ the “terrible twos” are nowhere to be found in these families.

Parents in San Pedro la Laguna do not report a sudden onset of negative or contrary behavior. Instead, their children make the transition from grabby toddler to cooperative child without a hitch. ”So yes, young children may not want to share, but the upset is caused by the way we deal with it. I have known for a while that a toddler does not have the ability to share at such a young age and that expecting them to share is naturally going to end in upset, but this has helped cement that belief.

However, this is easy when you are a thome and have control over the situation, but what about when you are having a playdate? I’m not sure about the answer to that one, other than to surround yourself with other like-minded parents so that your children can be free to always behave in age appropriate ways. Another idea is to also discuss these issues and how you normally deal with them with the other parent prior to an issue escalating with the children …and yet another idea is to say no toys from home when going out on playdates ~ just enjoy the nature! Back to ‘My son’ ~ he is not ‘mine’ ~ I do not own him, I do not possess him. He is on loan to me to raise in the best way I see fit. But he is not ‘mine’. He is his own person. So back to the start, ‘William is growing up so quickly!

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Enjoy the gift of Nurture!

Kristy xo

Additional information

Nurture Parenting eMagazine

Issue 1

COMING UP NEXT

Attachment Parenting

TRUSTING YOUR INSTINCTS

Issue #24