I have been grappling a bit with a small parenting dilemma. I think it is obviously pretty important to teach my kids to share. Lately, however, I have been wondering if I am going overboard. This last week, I have noticed that while Danny is usually pretty good about sharing with his sister--he usually offers her parts of his treats from school with no prompting from me and will share his toys, sometimes after I force him to, but other times willingly--he has been resistant to playing with Charlotte after school. At first, I thought it was a sharing issue. He didn't want to share his favorite cars with his sister, so Bil and I have been pushing him to share, sometimes resorting to timeouts, etc.
Last night, though, I realized that I think at times Danny just wants to play all by himself, unmolested by his sister. It makes sense. He goes to school all day where he is expected to interact with other kids and share and be polite. After a full day of forced socialization, I would want to play all by myself, too.
So, the question is, how do I balance Danny's need for privacy and isolation and Charlotte's desire to play with her big brother and his favorite toys? When do I force him to share the toys (and thus, interact) with his sister and when do I make Charlotte leave him alone?
The problem here is that in both scenarios, one of the kids is unhappy, which means I get to hear at least one of them screeching and complaining. Something I tend to avoid if possible. But, this is also an opportunity for both the kids to learn some lessons, like respect of others' boundaries and sharing even when it is uncomfortable. I just don't know exactly how to decide when and how to help each child meet his/her needs.
Have any of you dealt with this? Any good suggestions?