Mother Knows Best

When It Comes To Juggling Work And Family, Daytime Parents Are Pros

Celebrity Caretaker:  Mary Beth Evans (Katherine, GENERAL HOSPITAL)

Mommy’s Little Darlings:  Danny, 8, Katie, 6, and Matthew, 3

Words Of Wisdom:  “Teaching kids to respect each other is the key to helping them learn to share.”

By Kathy Henderson

Soap Opera Digest, December 3, 1996

Sharing And Caring

As a mother of three, Mary Beth Evans knows that a little squabbling among siblings is to be expected.  “But how much noise and chaos can you love with?” she asks with a laugh.  “I can’t stand going into other people’s houses and seeing their kids fighting and bickering while the parents just ignore it.  If you don’t teach children to respect each other, and to respect you as a parent, they’re not going to respect anybody.”

When conflicts over toys crop up in her household, Evans responds quickly.  “With my little guy, I talk about taking turns.  ‘Let’s so-and-so have it for five minutes and then you can have it for five minutes.’ Usually, he skips away and forgets about it.”  It takes time for preschoolers to learn that sharing doesn’t mean losing a toy forever, so frustration is natural at that age.  “This will sound totally unfair,” Evans adds, “but sometimes, I’ll say to my older ones, ‘Can’t you give the baby what he wants?’ I was the baby of the family, too, and now I understand how the third child gets spoiled!”

Evans’s older kids know that moms’ sharing rules are rooted in her beliefs about respecting each other.  “I just say, ‘If you can’t work it out peacefully, you lose [the toy].’  Danny and Katie were playing a game last night, and they started calling each other ‘cheater’ and saying ‘no fair.’ Finally, I said, ‘You know what?  Game over.  It’s time to separate for a little while.  When you feel you can play nicely, try again.”

For the most part, Evans adds with maternal pride, her kids do enjoy playing together.  “My older ones really adore the little guy.  In a way, I was lucky that the two boys are five-and-a-half years apart – there’s not much competitiveness.”

In Evan’s view, helping children learn to share and talk through disagreements pays dividends both inside and outside the family.  “I tell my kids, ‘You wouldn’t like it if I argued with your dad, and I don’t want to spend my time listening to you guys argue either.’  I just nip it in the bud.”


Sharing Made Easier

When Mary Beth Evans guides her three kids toward taking turns and playing fairly, she’s doing exactly what child development experts advise.  “Children have to be taught the benefits of teamwork,” says Robyn Spizman, co-author of Good Behavior (St. Martin’s Press) and author of When Words Matter Most (Crown).  Spizman offers these tips for helping you children learn to share.

Choose cooperative playthings that siblings and friends can share easily, such as balls, toy vehicles, blocks, a wagon, art supplies, dress-up clothes and simple board games.

Point out examples of sharing in books and TV shows, and let your child observe you being generous with others and sharing snacks and possessions.  Praise kids when they share without being reminded.

Turn Evans’s rule about taking turns every five minutes into a game by using a kitchen timer.  General rules, such as “Company goes first,” can also make sharing easier.

Give your child the freedom not to share new or “special” playthings.  Store these toys out of sight when friends some to play.