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Turn Taking 

A stock photo of a caucasian and african american child sharing in the play room.jpg

What is Turn Taking?

Turn Taking is when children take turns when talking and in play. Turn Taking in play  helps children develop the skills needed for turn taking in conversations with others. Early turn taking helps children develop skills in other areas, such as  negotiating,  problem solving and waiting.


How to Promote Turn Taking

While we want turn taking to be as natural as possible, there are things we can do to promote turn taking when playing and communicating with children. 


Let your child Lead

Let your child lead the interaction. It allows them to take the first turn about something that interests them, making the interaction more meaningful for them. Try not to ask questions or steer the play or conversation too much. If they give you an object in play use their interest in the object to build on  taking turns. If your child is really invested in playing with a game of blocks, join in rather than trying to get them to draw instead etc. 

Be observant.

Get down to your child’s eye level so that you can both observe each other’s facial expressions, gestures, intonation etc. Eye contact, smiles, gestures, vocalisations and words can all be interpreted as the child taking the “first turn”, so try to be on their level so that you can see any attempts at turn taking and build on them.


Wait and listen

As with the first point, it’s important that you wait for your child to lead. Treat any communication attempt as your child’s “first turn” and build on that.


Good Turn Taking activities

  • Shared book reading. Looking at the pictures on the page together. Comment on whats happening in the pictures etc.  

  • Blowing bubbles

  • Messy play e.g., water and sand play. Don’t be afraid to get messy. Children love messy play and leads to great turn taking moments together.

  • Stirring the cake mix together: exaggerating how you add, stir and taste all of the ingredients

  • Folding laundry

  • Putting groceries away

  • Any opportunities where the two of you are together are opportunities for developing your child’s turn taking skills.

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