Teaching Turn Taking to Your Child

Turn-Taking and sharing Activities for Toddlers

Turn taking is a pivotal social skill that children must acquire early in life. It’s an essential component of social interaction, allowing them to effectively, and positively, engage with others. Turn taking is a behaviour for learning that helps in activities where the child needs to share attention, participate in reciprocal conversations, and start to develop play skills.

Teaching Turn Taking Skills

My daughter when she was about two years old loved playing with wooden blocks. Like any toddler she was initially reluctant to share her toys and would often become upset if I tried to join in. By patiently waiting my turn, and then handing the toy back to her when it was her turn, I began to shape the behaviours that would allow us to play together. Over time, she started to understand the concept of ‘my turn, your turn,’ and she began to share willingly. I didn’t take over, direct the play or anything but we have 5 children so sharing and turn taking is quite important in our house.

Sharing and Turn Taking Activities: Practice Through Play

Play is a wonderful medium through which children can safely and enjoyably practice turn taking. It’s not just about the act of taking turns, but also about the development of communication, problem-solving, and broader social skills. Here are some strategies to support children in developing turn taking skills through play:

  1. Embody Turn Taking: Children absorb behaviours from those around them (usually the ones you don’t want them to) and attitudes from their surroundings, especially from their parents and siblings. It’s crucial to exemplify turn taking in your interactions with your child and each other. For instance, when playing a game with your child, make a point of taking turns.
  2. Leverage Games and Toys: Games and toys that prompt turn taking offer structured opportunities to learn this skill. Board games, card games and limited resources like kites are perfect for this purpose. Encourage your child to wait patiently for their turn. We have a timer on hand to support this if needed.
  3. Encourage Cooperative Games: Cooperative games, where players collaborate towards a shared goal, necessitate waiting and effective communication. Games like building block towers, completing a puzzle, or pass the parcel.
  4. Incorporate Turn Taking into Daily Activities: Everyday activities like meal times, getting dressed, or playing with toys present excellent opportunities to practice turn taking. Encourage your child to take turns during these activities and acknowledge their efforts with praise and positive reinforcement.

Turn taking is a crucial social skill that is vital for young children to master for effective interaction with others. Play offers a safe, fun environment for children to practice taking turns, sharing, and cooperating, while also developing their problem-solving and communication skills. See below for 50 more turn taking activity ideas.

50 activities to teach turn-taking skills to children:

  1. Roll a ball back and forth
  2. Build a block tower together, taking turns adding blocks
  3. Play simple board games that involve taking turns like Candy Land
  4. Take turns stirring a bowl when cooking or baking
  5. Trade off pushing each other on a swing
  6. Pass an object around a circle, only talking when it’s your turn holding the object
  7. Play hot potato with passing around a stuffed animal while music plays
  8. Play ping pong back and forth
  9. Pop bubbles, taking turns who gets to pop each one
  10. Take turns picking books to read at bedtime
  11. Trade off putting pieces into a puzzle
  12. Play catch back and forth
  13. Take turns picking songs to dance to
  14. Pass a beanbag back and forth as you count
  15. Take turns feeding the pets
  16. Trade off watering plants or flowers
  17. Kick a soccer ball to each other
  18. Take turns picking which color marker to use in a colouring activity
  19. Play tic-tac-toe and alternate turns
  20. Hit a balloon back and forth
  21. Take turns choosing which game to play
  22. Alternate turns picking up toys or doing chores
  23. Take turns stirring and adding ingredients during a cooking activity
  24. Toss a ball into a basket, alternating turns
  25. Take turns picking moves in Simon Says
  26. Use a timer and trade off talking about your day or interests
  27. Play Red Light Green Light, taking turns being the caller
  28. Alternate putting hats or silly costumes on and posing for the camera
  29. Pass an object around the table, taking turns sharing something about yourself
  30. Take turns picking which book to read at bedtime
  31. Shoot foam basketballs into a hoop, alternating shots
  32. Pass scanner tags back and forth, taking turns scanning grocery items
  33. Pop bubbles on a bubble wrap sheet, alternating who pops each bubble
  34. Play with a stacking ring toy, taking turns adding rings
  35. Dig in the sandbox together, taking turns using different shovels and buckets
  36. Play dress up and trade off deciding what the other person has to wear
  37. Kick a ball against a wall, alternating turns
  38. Play restaurant and take turns being the chef, waiter, customer
  39. Build tracks for marbles to run down, taking turns adding pieces
  40. Use flashlights to take turns making shadow puppets
  41. Play hide and seek, alternating who seeks first
  42. Paint/draw a collaborative picture, add elements in turn
  43. Play a musical instrument duet, alternating parts
  44. Do a simple clapping pattern, taking turns adding variations
  45. Draw shapes on an Etch-a-Sketch, passing it back and forth
  46. Pick finger puppets for a story decide what puppet to use and act out stories
  47. Build a house of cards together, adding cards one at a time
  48. Use a cash register toy, alternating scanning items and being the customer
  49. Take turns decorating cookies or cupcakes
  50. Play with LEGO take turns to be the builder and engineer

Check out these pages for even more ideas for teaching turn taking and sharing activities. They have an extensive range of approaches tailored to different age groups. From interactive games and role-playing scenarios to engaging activities and group exercises, there is something for everyone.

Teaching Turn Taking skills to Autistic Children. Group of three blonde children sharing lego

1 thought on “Teaching Turn Taking to Your Child”

  1. Pingback: The Importance of Saying No - Special Education and Inclusive Learning

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