Book Review: It’s OK NOT to Share…

and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids by Heather Shumaker

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Browsing through the library, my eyes caught this title, which certainly evokes an emotional response. Today children are pushed to always share, but this book presents why that may not be what is best for a child’s development, along with 28 other “renegade rules.” Most of the rules could easily upset others said without any context, which made me anxious to read. Here are a few of the chapters (29 total):

  • It’s OK if it’s not hurting people or property
  • Kids need conflict
  • Let kids hit and kick
  • Let her hog that toy all day
  • We’re not all friends here
  • Bombs, guns, and bad boys allowed
  • Boys can wear tutus
  • Kids don’t have to say sorry
  • Let your kids swear
  • Sex ed starts in preschool

I really enjoyed reading this book. It is focused on ages 2-6. It not only explains the child development reasons behind each rule, but it offers real life examples and words to say to children. Sometimes the hardest part is figuring out how to talk to a child, so this is a great resource. I agree with many of the ideas in the book.

The golden rule is: “It is okay as long as it doesn’t hurt other people or property.” For example, the author states that we shouldn’t tell children they can’t hit. Instead, they need to learn it isn’t right to hit people to hurt them (Say, “People aren’t for hitting.”), but it is good to get out anger versus bottling it up. Instead, hitting a pillow or the couch is a better way to express anger by fulfilling the child’s need to hit.

The main ideas I gleaned from this book are: we need to let kids play more and give as much opportunity for uninterrupted play as possible (longer periods of play time), kids learn social skills through play and by having conflicts with others (with an adult near to help guide), it isn’t wrong to have emotions, emotions are powerful and scary to small children who don’t know how to control them yet, we can help children verbalize their thoughts and feelings, children deserve to know the truth in an age appropriate way (don’t tell them babies come from storks), children have needs to be met through play and we should allow them to explore those needs as much as possible, find ways to say yes instead of always saying no, at this age children don’t fully understand no, so distraction and redirection is often the best method (for example, instead of only saying “no” when Oliver tries to eat foam pieces, I will put a toy over or pick him up and move to a different spot with some toys he can play with. I could say no as well or just move him and point out what he can do).

I would recommend all parents and caregivers to young children read this book. It will make you think of discipline in new ways and may give some new ideas and words to use with your children.

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