Sharing doesn’t come naturally and is very hard for not only toddlers, but sometimes for adults too. Forcing your toddler to share might do more harm than good and is not recommended.
How can you support ?
1. Rephrasing sharing with turn taking
While the two might seem like they mean the same, toddlers need to practice turn taking with the help of an adult for a long time before they are ready to share independently. Toddlers might be ready to take turns at around age 2 but sharing is a more complex skill that comes by 4.
2. Ask their opinion
Favourite toys are too hard for toddlers to share. Ask them which items they don't want to share and put them away before a play date so that you can set your toddler up for success. Your toddler will feel valued that their opinion counts as is more likely lead them to be open minded when it comes to sharing.
3. Keep time
Time is an abstract concept and a toddler may not understand how long it is going to be until it is their turn again. Use an alarm or an old fashioned sand timer to keep track of time. After 5 minutes announce that it is time to swap.
4. Give a break
Sometimes turn taking might be hard and your child will need a break. That’s okay! Allow them to switch to a different activity that doesn’t require them to take turns and they can play independently until they are ready to attempt turn taking again.
5. Celebrate them
If you notice them waiting for their turn in everyday life, be sure to comment on it, and celebrate them. You can say, “I noticed you waited for your turn to put the cup in the sink!.” It builds their confidence and they feel like they can do it while playing as well!
Activities that support turn taking
1. Roll the ball
Sit in a circle with other family members and sing the song “I roll the ball to ______, he rolls it back to me” and then repeat with each family member's name. While learning to wait for their turn, it also develops visual tracking, auditory skills and gross motor!
2. I draw you draw
Sit with your child on a low table or the floor. Put a sheet of paper in between the two of you and one crayon. First, pick up the crayon and draw something while saying “I draw”, then hand the crayon to your child and say “You draw”. Keep it fun by drawing silly faces, and making sounds to go with it
Cooking is a great time to teach your child to wait for their turn. While preparing the ingredients, take turns adding items into a bowl, mixing and even cleaning up!
Slide is another way to teach your child turn taking. If someone is going down the slide, wait your turn. It works as a great visual reminder.
Using blocks to build a tower can be a fun way to take turns. Each of you takes turns to add one block at a time. Not only does this help practice turn taking, it supports language, fine motor, hand eye coordination and gross motor skills. And oh … the excitement when it comes crashing down.
Use puppets to take turns playing different characters. Add voice modulation for an element of fun. You can retell traditional stories or make up your own.