Sharing and taking turns are important life skills that your little one might not have had much exposure to. Whether they have siblings, go on playdates or are about to start nursery, practising some sharing skills early on can really help them for future social situations.
But don’t worry if your little one is struggling to take turns or play cooperatively, as developing these skills takes time!
Here are some fun sharing and taking turns activities for toddlers that you can do to practice these skills at home.
Baking is a perfect (and tasty) way to teach your child to take turns. The best way to approach turn-taking is to have a look at the recipe before you start, and list out all the jobs that need doing.
Then, work with your child or children to divide up the jobs between you. It’s a lovely way for the whole family to get involved and also have some yummy treats to share at the end!
Baking is also a great way to stimulate conversations, as toddlers may be puzzled by the changes that happen as your creations are chilled in the fridge or cooked in the oven. Provide plenty of safe cooking instructions and encourage your toddlers to take turns asking questions about what is happening.
If you’d like some easy baking recipes to do with your toddler, check out our previous guide to home baking here.
Playing some board games is an ideal way to practice some turn-taking skills. During the game, you can use verbal cues to let your toddler know whose turn it is, for example ‘Now it’s Daddy’s turn’.
This is also a great way to learn sportsmanship and communication skills. Your toddler will learn to have fun playing the game whether they win or lose, and practice taking turns whilst doing so.
Going to the playground
The playground is a great place to take your little one to help them learn about sharing in a real-life environment. For example, your child will have to take turns with other children they haven’t met on the slide, or let another child have a go when they’ve been on the swings for a while. It is the perfect setting for them to familiarise themselves with cooperative play and good manners.
It’s important to support your child in these situations by prompting them to make the right decision, as again, these skills will likely not be perfect just yet. Eventually, however, they should model the good behaviour around them by learning through imitation.
Timeshare when using toys
Sharing toys will probably be one of the hardest things for your child to learn, as they know their toys belong to them. Timeshare is all about compromise and fairness.
With siblings especially, this can be tricky. However, you can encourage them to swap toys and use a timer to help them take turns using the toys. This also works when they have friends over.
If your child kicks up a fuss about this, manage their disappointment by taking away everyone’s toys and explaining that no one can play if they don’t share. Your child likely will realise that the best outcome for them will be to share, so this is a great way to encourage them positively.
Reading and making up stories
Another activity that your child can take turns doing is reading. Whether they’re reading a book with you, their siblings or a friend, you can take turns reading a page or a line.
Alternatively, if your child struggles with reading, a more engaging activity is to make up a story! As a family, one person can start with a sentence, and the next person can add their own sentence to create a funny story.
Collaborating like this and taking turns to add a line makes for an entertaining game and learning experience.
Praise and reward sharing
Positive reinforcement is a great way to teach your little one that sharing is good behaviour. If you observe your child sharing or taking turns with friends, be that on a play date or at home in the garden, praise and reward them.
They will then associate this behaviour with a good outcome and are more likely to repeat it. So always acknowledge sharing! You could even use a star chart system or give them a sticker each time they exhibit turn-taking, and after they have collected enough, reward them with a little present.
Vice versa, if your child fails to share or kicks up a fuss, explain to them again why sharing is so important. Explain to them how they would feel if someone did not share with them or let them use their favourite toy in the playground. This might inspire them to be more compassionate.
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