Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Helping Young Siblings to Take Turns

I am not always the most patient person when waiting for it to be my turn...especially at the grocery store when I'm hungry. That's why I try not to go shopping on an empty stomach. Now, if it is difficult for me to wait, share, and take turns at 30-something years of age, then, wow, how much harder is it for a toddler or preschooler. Especially when they are siblings and wanting to play with the same toy at home. Many typically developing and/or developmentally delayed children have difficulties with grasping the word "wait" or "share". They need a visual or auditory cue in addition to just being told. Even worse, is when an adult says "be nice" to the kids when they are fighting over a toy; what does "be nice" really mean----nothing. The kids need specific criteria to follow until they can thoroughly understand how to take turns and share. Listed below are just a few ideas that may help young siblings to share:

  • Use a kitchen digital timer that beeps: set it at 5 minutes (or any other time increment). When it beeps at the end of that time, then the kids know that it is the other person's turn. Examples of using this could be for favorite puzzles, swings, train, bikes, video games, or other desirable toys.
  • When possible, get two (or the number equal to number of kids) toys that look the same. If the similar toys differ slightly and the kids are fighting over a particular one, then set the timer.
  • Consider putting the items in "time out" for the day or afternoon if the kids can't seem to share. Now if one sibling is 18 months and the other is 4 years old, then that is probably not fair to the older child, so in that case a cue may better be able to teach the younger child.
  • Use a sand hour glass timer such as the ones that come with board games. Often the timer lasts 1-3 minutes. Once the sand has poured into the bottom portion, then it is the other child's turn.
  • If the kids are arguing over playing with a toy during a car ride, then let one play with it on the way to the destination and the other on the way home.
  • If the kids are fighting over a television show, then discuss ahead of time whose turn is first. If they both have a favorite show on at the same time on different channels and there is only one TV, then maybe alternate days or use a DVR.
  • Spend a special time with each child so they don't feel the need to fight over you, the parent. This might be reading to one and then the other before bed time. It might be taking each one of them to the park individually. No matter what the special time is, make it about that child only.

Whether you own two of every toy or not, kids still need to learn to take turns and share. Learning it at home first really helps them with interacting with peers such as at preschool, the park, church, and other places within the community.

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