Making Friends Means Taking Turns

A cornerstone of friendship is the ability to take turns. One goal of care-giving, then, becomes teaching this skill.

“Sharing” has become a hallmark of Kindergarten curriculum. But one year of classroom teaching is insufficient to plant, water, a grow a heart of caring. Learning to take turns can start at home. Almost any activity can be turned into an opportunity to take turns: when a child gives a hug, the parent or care-giver gives a hug back. With a pet dog or hamster, a child and adult can take turns rubbing its back. When playing with race cars, you can take turns using certain Hot Wheels.

Taking turns teaches:
• Self-control: Children must control their bodies while waiting for the other person to do their part.
• Adaptability: children learn that they cannot always have what they want when they want it.
• Verbalization: When taking turns, children learn to say what they want (“I want to take a turn with the ball”) and are rewarded for it.
• Empathy: Children learn that other people have desires that deserve to be met.

Remember to start small! Smiles and petting animals are good places to start—work up to longer times of patience and sharing. Sharing with an adult (likely to be fair) will be good practice for taking turns with other children (who may be less likely to always follow turn-taking rules).

Sharing is a skill that makes friendships tick. Let’s make it our goal to help these young friendships turn!