“I don’t share.”

Of all the reactions you hope to have from one of your few, that’s probably not the one you are eagerly anticipating! But that is the answer I received to my gentle reminder about the value of sharing.

Our morning started great with a creative and engaging activity about helping others and the types of people that help. We were pretending to make food for others, and unfortunately my little “non-sharer” was effectively grabbing all the play food, utensils and anything else within her grasp, causing quite an uproar among the others in the group. When I suggested that it would be a lot more fun if she shared the food, I got that statement – “I don’t share.”

My first reaction was, the mommy instinct to give “suggestions” on why sharing is the best choice, and the consequences that result from not sharing. Knowing that’s not really the best small group leader reaction, I did some preschool intervention and pried away some of the goods so the other kids could participate.

I guess I thought that would be the end of less-than-helpful behavior from my little friend, but the morning still held a few surprises! During our large group time, our kids did an especially great job singing and our leader said to give everyone high fives – which were all enthusiastically given and received. My same little friend proceeded to give me high fives – several as a matter of fact, with more force than you would think a five-year-old could muster. After quite a few of these (my hands now a nice sunburn shade of red), I finally said, “I think that’s enough high fives for now”. Much to my surprise my friend looked at my hand and remarked, “looks like you’re getting eczema”. I’d like to say my thoughts were of all the great potential bundled up in this cute ball of energy… but that wouldn’t be exactly true.

Fortunately, I had the rest of large group to gather my thoughts and was reminded of the fact that all of us (even the youngest in our groups) have a story. I don’t really know this particular child enough to know what her story is. Maybe her story isn’t full of many examples of what sharing looks like or what being gentle looks like. She doesn’t attend regularly and had never been part of my group before. So, instead of giving a lecture about sharing, or how hard or soft to give high fives (or possibly investing in protective hand gear!), I decided to find out her story.

It will take time, but the most valuable things in life come slowly. So what do you think is the best approach when one of your preschool small group members doesn’t want to share, plays too rough or just needs some gentle guiding in a different direction? There are a lot of solutions, but most of them begin with knowing their stories!

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