How to Encourage Turn Taking

Turn taking is a skill we use absolutely all the time throughout our daily lives. Just think of how many times today you waited in line at the supermarket for your turn, waited on the phone for the other person to answer so you have your turn to talk, or waited in traffic for the red light to change to green so it’s your turn to go. It is a very important social skill and this is why we should encourage and teach it to our little ones. However, this skill doesn’t come naturally to most kids. it can lead to frustration, crying and even fights. How do we work on this particular skill? Here are a few things to have in mind:

1. Talk About it

Expose the subject of taking turns in terms that will be easy for your child to understand. Explain that taking turns is a positive thing and that it will make everyone happy. You can also use social stories to illustrate how one can take turns. Social stories provide a visual idea of the subject and kids can relate to the stories and situations the characters go through.

2. Model:

They say that “actions speak louder than words”. This is definitely true when it comes to social skills, and it is not particularly the exception  with learning to take turns. Do the behavior you want your child to do. Let them see you take turns in real life, and show them that waiting for your turn is ok.

3. Use visuals:

Some children might find the wait to be the most difficult part of taking turns. They might feel impatient while they wait for their turn and might engage in other behaviors that we don’t wish, such as tantrums, crying or whining. Create a “wait” card that your child can hold while they wait. You can also engage your child in activities that make the wait easier, such as counting objects in the environment, singing a song or playing  “I spy”.

Remember: You want to start exposing your child to taking turns in small amounts of time and work yourself up to longer periods of time

4. And as always…Reinforce!

Reinforcement is and will always be the most powerful tool to increase good behaviors. Reinforce, praise and congratulate your little one for having taken turns. This will show them that they did something good, and will motivate them to do it again in the future.

Keep in mind that for some kids it is very difficult to wait. This is why it is important to start small and work your way up to waiting for longer periods of time and with progressively less assistance from you. It is very important If family members also collaborate in teaching your child about taking turns. As we work together, we achieve greater results.

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