自私是在利益上发生冲突时，我们选择损害他人利益而满足自己利益。自我是按照自己的意见、情感、心里和意志的需要形式自己的计划，支配自己的行为。孩子们一出生是没有自我的，而他的成长过程就是自我建构的过程。孩子的创造力、幸福感、独立性、意志，都要建立在自我的基础上，没有自我的孩子内心充满挣扎， 容易迷失自己，长大后如果还是没有自我就可能屈从别人，在别人身上寻求归属。 （孙瑞雪， 2013）
Charlie Finds a Home - Caring, Sharing
Many parents would come to notice that when their children reach around 2.5 to 3 years of age, they start to exhibit unwillingness to share with others, where everything is, in the children’s words, “mine”. When our children are unwilling to share, whether it’s personal or public property, parents may feel embarrassed and the fear of judgement from others may result in parents forcing their children to be nice and to give up the object of contention.
This may seem counterintuitive, but it is actually okay for children at this age to not share! Without a doubt, sharing behaviours are lauded for it is a prosocial act that we want to encourage and teach our children to do. However, when children do not wish to share and are instead, more engaged in battles of what is “mine” with others, parents need not be overly anxious.
A child is not automatically “selfish” if he or she does not wish to share. When toddlers claim ownership over an item, they are demonstrating their self-awareness by their ability to understand and use self-referential language such as “me”, “mine”, or “you” (Brownell, Iesue, Nichols, & Svetlova, 2012). This behaviour is not one that requires “correcting” per se, because children are merely attempting to establish and assert their distinctive “self”, a concept they are still grasping at this point.
Instead of condemning those behaviours, we should create an encouraging and stimulating environment that allows them to see sharing as a behaviour that they genuinely want to do, without diminishing their building of a self-concept. If we choose to reprimand and force children to share, we may unintentionally create negative consequences of them associating sharing with feelings of unhappiness.
With this understanding, we incorporated concepts of kindness and sharing to children through dramatisation and role playing in our final session, with the aim of providing a naturalistic and conducive environment for them to be exposed to and practice those concepts. As children continue discovering and building on their self-concept, these positive values would then be more readily accessible in their schema*, and they would in turn be more likely to respond prosocially to certain stimuli in the future.
*A schema is the knowledge unit in our brains that tells us how to react to a particular stimulus.