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It's OK Not to Share and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids

It's OK Not to Share and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids [Kindle Edition]

Heather Shumaker
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

Parenting can be such an overwhelming job that it’s easy to lose track of where you stand on some of the more controversial subjects at the playground (What if my kid likes to rough house—isn’t this ok as long as no one gets hurt? And what if my kid just doesn’t feel like sharing?). In this inspiring and enlightening book, Heather Shumaker describes her quest to nail down “the rules” to raising smart, sensitive, and self-sufficient kids. Drawing on her own experiences as the mother of two small children, as well as on the work of child psychologists, pediatricians, educators and so on, in this book Shumaker gets to the heart of the matter on a host of important questions. Hint: many of the rules aren’t what you think they are!
The “rules” in this book focus on the toddler and preschool years—an important time for laying the foundation for competent and compassionate older kids and then adults. Here are a few of the rules:
It’s OK if it’s not hurting people or property Bombs, guns and bad guys allowed. Boys can wear tutus. Pictures don’t have to be pretty. Paint off the paper! Sex ed starts in preschool Kids don’t have to say “Sorry.” Love your kid’s lies.IT’S OK NOT TO SHARE is an essential resource for any parent hoping to avoid PLAYDATEGATE (i.e. your child’s behavior in a social interaction with another child clearly doesn’t meet with another parent’s approval)!

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 712 KB
  • Print Length: 394 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1585429368
  • Publisher: Tarcher (2 Aug 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0087GJ8TI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #140,696 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By Melody
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I bought this book when the issue of sharing came to the forefront of my toddler's life. At 2, she was the child who was most likely to have toys taken from her (without protest). That left me in a tricky situation; I didn't know how to either defend her right to have that toy without upsetting the other parent or teach my daughter how to kindly stand her ground.

I mentioned the book's ideas on 'not sharing' with my closest friend, whose son is also 2, and we practised the author's advice. We noticed immediately that it worked. The children were willing to talk to each other (we gave them the words) and respect their own agreement to take turns. And it removed all confrontation that might be felt between parents because what we were doing was getting the children to talk to each other (rather than giving out orders). Both children felt respected & safe to play with a toy until 'done'.

After that, we broached the subject to other parents who we met with, when we found that they had the same problems over sharing (when to say something, forcing your child to 'share' their toys when they weren't done to appease another parent/child etc). They were open to trying the technique but doubted their child's willingness to co-operate. They were then amazed to see their child accept the final outcome (usually without tears or frustration).

Of course, there are other topics discussed in the book, which are very interesting & offer the same level of common sense. But I bought it for the chapter on sharing & was not disappointed.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wise and practical 18 April 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
I read this on recommendation of a like-minded friend. It is based on a respectful understanding of children as real people, with rights and feelings, but also recognising that they can't always do everything they want the way they want. It gives a framework and practical tips for keeping children safe while allowing them the freedom to be children and to learn for themselves how to interact with others in a thoughtful and respectful way. Ad it doesn't take itself too seriously, acknowledging that sometimes you need to just let it slide, or adapt your rules to sensitivities of others , or if you simply can't be bothered. Would recommend it to anyone!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this book 23 Sep 2013
By Sarah H
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I really like the style of parenting advocated and this book should be read because at least you can argue for your own choices if you don't like it. It is thought provoking honest and funny.
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Slightly undermining sub title I thought, considering that the principles and advice in this book is backed up by mainstream child development and pyschology, and road tested since the 1960s. It's a fabulous, practical, easy to read parenting goldmine. It should be handed out with the red book by health visitors after every birth and it should be taught as standard for early years teachers and preschool managers. Can't recommend highly enough.
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41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Defense for the Non-Helicopter Parent 10 Mar 2013
By Dawn R. Pedersen - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Have you ever found yourself in a group of other parents, playing with your children, and peer pressure alone makes you direct your child to do something, or avoid something? And then you wonder whether that was really the best thing for your child, or if you're just reacting to the presumed expectations of other moms and dads. Sometimes we coax our kid to share something she's enjoying, or to apologize for an action he doesn't really understand. Sometimes we remind our child not to climb the slide, or not to exclude another child from play. If you ever had the gut feeling that maybe that wasn't really a useful approach, you may be right.

Heather Shumaker has put together 29 "Renegade Rules". The rules provide an unorthodox angle on common parenting issues, and each is based on successful practices in child development centers and homes around the world.

Shumaker is a journalist who had the good fortune to be enrolled as a young child in a preschool that respected the individuality and developmental needs of each child. Her mother was even a teacher there, so the ground rules set forth at school were carried over into her home. It's OK Not to Share cites a multitude of other authors, experts in early childhood development and psychology. I've read a number of these books and value them, so Shumaker's text fit nicely with my overall approach to mothering my son. While many of her assertions were quite familiar to me already, I found in her book a number of very useful specific suggestions for dealing with tricky situations.

"It's OK Not to Share" covers a gamut of early childhood topics. The book discusses a need to revive unstructured, free play for all children. It shows us how to deal with the wild emotions of little ones. It helps us discover the best way to help our kids become compassionate, giving, and conflict-resolving people. It tells us it's not only okay to let our children do stuff that many adults (particularly women) find too scary: climb trees, wear clothing of the opposite sex, exclude the opposite sex from play, paint off the paper, shoot toy guns, roughhouse, jump off things, discuss sex and death, and punch each other. These things are vital in becoming competent adults. Try to think back on what you were allowed to do as a child, before our culture became awash in unfounded fear.

There are many more topics besides these, and the overarching philosophy is that we ought to respect our children in their unique journeys. What we do as parents ought not betray our kids in favor of toeing the line with other parents.

What makes this book really useful is that each of the chapters is laid out in a similar way. Each Renegade Rule is well explained, several real-world examples are given, and each rule is supported with research and anecdotal evidence. The text is so expansive it goes 400 pages long, rather hefty considering that the typical parenting book is under 300 pages.

I love most of what I read in the book "Unconditional Parenting" by Alfie Kohn. It deals with the concepts of respect for the child, unconditional love, and the emotional damage that punishment causes. But many parents came away from that book thinking, well I understand what not to do or say; now what? Shumaker's book comes along and fills in the gaps nicely. We come to learn a number of phrases to avoid and what to replace them with. Shumaker even wraps up the book by offering advice for living the Renegade Rules in real life, where we know all too well how judgmental other adults can be.

I want to discuss my five favorite Renegade Rules here, to give you a taste. It's so hard to pick just five:

It's OK If It's Not Hurting People or Property

This is the one that has had the most impact on my parenting decisions since I first read it. This is how I have convinced my husband more than once to chill out. If Theo's climbing up the slide and nobody's waiting to come down, or crashing a stick into a vernal pool, or attempting some risky maneuver (but only mildly risky,) or even just making a silly fool of himself, the question is who or what is it hurting? If we can't come up with a good answer, we keep our mouths shut about it. We may even embrace it.

Kids Need Conflict

All too often we are tempted to step in and help our little ones avoid a conflict. We scoop them up, or command them to share. We solve the problem before it needed to be solved, and it is solved by the wrong people. Intruders. Instead, we can serve as mediators. "Do you like it when Billy does that? No? Then tell him. Billy, John has told you he doesn't like that. Do you still want to play together? Can you promise not to do that again?" I love how this book shows us how to help kids deal with conflict through clear communication, rather than avoid it.

It's OK Not to Share

I have a friend who heard of the title of this book and responded quite strongly. He is convinced that the problem with kids today is that they are not being taught to share. I agree with Shumaker that the problem is that we are demanding that our children share as if their own needs are irrelevant. This approach does not make kids compassionate. They learn that sharing is unpleasant, it comes with interruption at an inconvenient time, and that it is dictated by powerful adults. It is disrespectful the child's process of play with the object.

Rather, if we let a child keep a plaything until she is all done with it, she will often gladly hand it over to the waiting child. Then there comes that burst of good feeling from having willingly shared, and a child who experiences that likely wants that feeling again. That's the beginning of true generosity. And the next child knows she will be able to keep it as long as she likes, her playtime not ruined by a time limit or an abrupt takeover. Eventually you have a child who knows his play engagement is being respected, and will (and does) share because he wants to.

Bombs, Guns and Bad Guys Allowed

I am becoming so alarmed by news stories of small children being suspended for pretending to have guns or grenades. These little people are having their academic records tainted, and their psyches damaged, by grownups who take a child's gun play far too seriously. You cannot prevent a child from becoming violent by preventing him from pointing his finger at a friend and saying pew pew. And he will not become violent because he pretended to be a bad guy with a bomb. Overreacting to the imaginative play that makes some adults uncomfortable is far more likely to produce resentful children who, I don't know, may become more violent as a result.

Kids Don't Have to Say "Sorry"

Short and sweet: if a child doesn't mean she's sorry, she shouldn't have to say it. The youngest children who are often compelled to say these words don't really know what they mean. So what the child learns is that it's okay to do certain behaviors, or be careless, because all you have to do afterwards is say you're sorry. Instead, we ought to point out how her behavior hurt someone else, how that other child is crying for example. Let the first child get a sense of how her actions affect other. Then ask her if she can agree not to do it again. Chances are she will really try not to.
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Primer for Becoming a Free-Range Parent 17 Oct 2012
By Think Banned Thoughts - Published on
When I heard about It's Okay Not to Share and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids by Heather Shumaker, it seemed like a book that might have some practical answers to this epidemic. There was a free sample chapter available called "Let Your Kid Swear". I read it, shared it and thought to myself "Ah-ha, here is someone who gets it."

The book arrived in my box shortly afterward and I dove in.

I quickly discovered that this book was written for parents of younger children, under the age of 6 - those really formative years. My kids are older than that, but I kept reading anyway. After 8 years of being told that I am a strict, lax, mean, over-nice, lazy, tough, terrible, brilliant, neurotic, crazy, casual parent, it was kind of nice to read a book that told me that for all these years I have been doing everything (mostly) just right. (Which is not to say that any of you have been doing it wrong - read on.)

My approach to parenting is based largely on what I consider "common sense", but what this book has told me is actually Renegade Sense - which explains so very much. I didn't realize that I really was parenting off the rails, but looking back, I see that for most of the fellow parents I know, these rules go against everything their "What to Expect when you have a toddler/preschooler/child" type books have told them.

All of these common sense guidelines, er, Renegade Rules, for parenting stem from one single rule - It's okay if it's not hurting people or property. They also stem from a deep respect for children's play. Something I fully support.

One of the things I like most about Renegade Rules is that Shumaker takes the time to help us take off our "adult lenses" and see the world through a kid's eyes. She also breaks down the tangible benefits of each and every Renegade Rule.

While I have been living this way for 8 years now, and I can see the benefits with my own eyes, for the very many parents I meet each day who have not gone renegade yet, these little asides might be just the ticket to encourage them to try.

I think of it as an eight step program from helicopter to free-range parenting.

If I had any complaint about this book at all it was the number of times Shumaker reminded us that "especially boys" need to - wiggle, move, be active, hit, be aggressive, be loud, be rowdy, act rambunctious, run, jump, climb, play with sticks, turn innocuous objects into guns, lasers, bombs or other weapons. I hear this line all the time and every single time I hear it I just want to ask, "Have you met my girls?"
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An eye-opening book about common sense parenting 25 Sep 2012
By C. Norbury - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Most of one's success in life is based on using plain, simple common sense. Most of one's success raising children should be based on common sense too. Ms. Shumaker's book drips with common sense on every page. Her main premise is instead of trying to raise our children to become mini-adults, we should use common sense to understand the whys of their behaviors, and then raise them to become the best children they can be, with appropriate challenges and success at each stage of their development. She feels this is the most effective method for helping them become successful adults.

What I see as her overarching rule of rules is her Renegade Rule #2: It's OK if it's not hurting people or property. My translation: let kids be kids. Allow them to make noise, make messes, wrestle and roughhouse with each other by mutual agreement, have arguments, be selfish and hog a toy for the entire day, say almost anything (with certain limitations), play during 99% of their free time, and make believe any fantasy they can dream of, even if that fantasy appears to be violent on the surface. AS LONG AS IT'S NOT HURTING PEOPLE OR PROPERTY.

If you read this far and have dropped your jaw in shocked disagreement, you need to read this book so you will understand the growing legion of parents who will raise their children by these rules and will succeed. You might also discover that your experts have misled you about effective, beneficial child raising techniques.

If you read this far and have dropped your jaw in shocked amazement and enlightenment that your intuitive impulse and desire to raise your child with the common sense is valid, even though you went along with standard child raising guidelines, then you especially need to read this book. It will open your eyes to the keys to unlocking your child's potential and at the same time, bring peace and harmony (relatively speaking) to your household.

The format is laid out simply, logically, and clearly. Twenty-nine rules, each with its own chapter. Each chapter explains the rule, the reason for the rule, why it works with children, what you might object to initially, case studies or examples of the rule in action, and Renegade Blessings and Children's Rights, which further help reinforce this new way of thinking for parents.

Each chapter also contains step-by-step procedures and suggestions for implementing a new rule. Ms. Shumaker also deals with the inevitable clash between old and new cultures and how to deal with, for example, parents who believe it's abhorrent to let young children indulge in any sort of violent or aggressive fantasy or game. She acknowledges there will be friction between parents with different parenting philosophies and provides handy explanations and justifications for the Renegade parent to gently educate another parent in how to accept a Renegade Parent's style.

Bottom line, I usually conk out reading in bed by eleven o'clock, but "It's OK NOT to Share" was such a page turner it kept me up reading well past midnight on two occasions. This is the best book I've read this year and one of the best nonfiction books I've read in many years.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable, unusual approach to childrearing 2 Aug 2012
By D. L. McKeen - Published on
This unconventional book will instigate controversy, or at least raise some eyebrows, but it really makes sense. Just one example: As adults, we aren't expected to hand over something we have just because another adult wants it, and we'd certainly object if someone forced us to do so. Why do we require children to "share" what they have? Is that really teaching them constructive behavior, or are we inadvertently creating problems?

On that issue and many others, Heather Shumaker offers alternative methods of supporting young children's social and emotional development. Some "rules" are more unusual than others, but all are clearly explained and supported with research. She includes tips on how to implement the strategies, what to say and not say (some surprises here), and how to respond to adults who question these methods.

Heather Shumaker's writing style is engaging and easy to read, and the book is well organized. Parents and caregivers of toddlers and preschoolers will find this book tremendously useful and helpful in facing the challenges of raising young children.
23 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars At last someone is making sense! 17 Feb 2013
By A Quiet Conscience - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
I have been talking about the title subject for a while now and I'm so glad that it's being given some serious discussion. Why do we force children to share if WE aren't sharing based on the same arbitrary rules? Sure at first it seems like we're fostering some horrible greed in our kids, but what if we're actually teaching a child to respect other people's feelings, their own feelings and the objects that they and their friends value? How many times did you share something only to never have it returned or returned broken? (I sure had this happen to me as I was a very "sharing" kid!)

I want to illustrate the entire problem with sharing as evidenced in the plot of the Sesame Street film, Elmo in Grouchland. The story goes that Elmo finds Zooey all upset and wants her to feel better so he lets her hold his prized possession, his blanket. This is no ordinary blanket because as the film shows, we spend the entire opening montage showing how much he LOVES his blanket. He has an attachment to it. Anyway, he lets her touch it and then he asks for it back. Zooey then outright REFUSES to return it to him saying, "In a minute, Elmo!" and then he starts to panic and insists on it back. She keeps refusing and then he tries to take it back, and she refuses to let go. They have a tug of war until the blanket rips. This is the catalyst for the entire message of the film which seems to be, "Share your most valuable, sentimental, prizes possessions with people who have NO RESPECT for you or your feelings OR your possessions, either. If you don't, you will be labelled a horrible selfish grouch!" Elmo eventually ends up chasing his blanket to Grouchland (as it gets lost) and meets the Mandy Patinkin character who is obsessed with everything being his. He touches it, it's his. This is supposed to show and teach us how evil we are to value our own property. Elmo is basically treated like his feelings don't matter. At the end of the film he realizes that he should not have dared say no to Zooey, he had no right to want his own blanket back, and that it's ok for other people to ridicule and cajole you into "sharing" your stuff with them. And tough luck if when and if you get your stuff back, it's broken. Not once in the film did Zooey ever admit she was in the wrong for not letting him have the blanket back when he politely requested it. Not once in the film do we see Elmo's feelings validated. Not once are we told that it's important to respect other people's feelings about their stuff. Not once were we taught that when someone loans us something, we should take very good care of it.

It's just ridiculous.

And BTW if you believe we should all be forced to share, I'd like to borrow your SUV for the weekend. Don't worry, I might even return it in once piece.
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