Did you know that learning to take turns is about more than just sharing? It lays the foundation for learning how to have a back-and-forth conversation. Taking turns teaches a child how to be an active part of a social interaction even when they’re not doing anything. It teaches them to wait, watch, and respond to the people they interact with. But how do we teach a child this important skill? Toys are great, but the greatest, most fun and engaging toy your child should have access to is YOU! You can move, sing, play in new, interesting ways, and respond to your child like no toy can! All you need in order to teach your child the incredibly important skill of taking turns is your wonderful self. Keep reading to find out how!
Step 1: Sit FACE-TO-FACE with your child. It is so important for the child to see your face, your excitement, expressions, and the way your mouth moves to create sounds. All this helps them learn to communicate! Also try to be at their eye level. So, if you are both sitting on the same surface, like the floor, put the child on a cushion or chair so your eyes are at the same level.
Step 2: Start doing a simple activity that your child enjoys. Here are some examples – blow bubbles, clap your hands, throw a ball, “feed” a toy doll, sing a song.
Step 3: Pause and give your child a turn. If you’re blowing bubbles, put the bubble wand in front of their mouth to give them a turn to try blowing. If you’re “feeding” a toy doll, give them the bottle while you hold the doll so they can take a turn doing the feeding. If you’re clapping your hands and/or singing, pause and say, “your turn!” or “you try!” and help them if they need. When singing, I like to pause so the child can complete the chorus. For example, you sing “Old Mac Donald had a farm…”, and the child can fill in, “E I E I O”.
Step 4: Praise them for taking their turn, and then let them know it’s “mommy’s turn” or “grandma’s turn”, etc. Help them wait before they get a turn again. Make your turn quick at first, in order to keep them engaged and prevent them from getting frustrated or upset as they start to learn this concept. As they become more comfortable with the concept of turn-taking, you can take longer turns and add more people to the activity!