But It’s My Turn!

Positive Parenting Series – Week 2: Sharing versus Taking Turn

Read Week 1: Parenting From the Heart here

If you’re like me, and the several other moms reading this blog, then you’re likely a millennial, raising kids. That means you’ve been raised with a lil old school parenting – do as I say, and not as I do – mixed with a little new school parenting – tell me what you think about that. And if you’re REALLY like me, then you had one parent who was old school and one parent that was new(er) school, but that’s beside the point.

As for my husband and me, we’re a blend of the old and new school. I prioritize my son’s thoughts, feelings, and desires over traditional parenting. When I was growing up, it was always, “share your toys, share your books, share your supplies” and rarely did I ever have a say in the matter. At the time, it didn’t seem like a big deal and even know, I don’t think that’s the wrong way to handle it. However, about two years ago, I was introduced to a better way for children to handle disputes over toys: encourage children to practice taking turns instead of teaching them how to share.

two toddler girls playing, one has a stuffed whale and the other has a stuffed dinosaur
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Well, what’s the difference? Most often, adults create arbitrary rules to decide when, where, and how children should share. “You can play with the ball for five minutes and then you need to give it to your friend.” Children, especially younger children, struggle with this because they lack the concept of time. This method also requires children to abruptly end a task, which can be incredibly challenging and frustrating even for adults.

Instead, encourage children to take turns. This looks like teaching children to say, “You can play with the ball after I’m finished.” or “Not right now. I’m playing with the toy.” This fosters autonomy, self-regulation, problem-solving, and a few other skills that children will need as they learn and grow.

What do I do if my child (or the other child) doesn’t want to take turns? Honestly, that’s a loaded question and the answer will depend on a variety of factors. There may be times when you, the parent, the adult, will have to step in. This is, however, a great time to help your child strengthen their problem-solving skills. “What else can you do while your friend is playing with the ball?” or “Would you like to play with the cars until it’s your turn to play with the ball?”

Won’t taking turns make the other child feel bad? Samantha Radford, PhD of Evidence-Based Mommy put it best: “I do NOT expect one child to do for another just because the one expresses painful feelings.  I have explicitly told [my children] that they don’t owe anyone anything just because that person is sad or mad, and as they get older, I will continue teaching this lesson in more specific situations.

So mommmas, what are your thoughts? Do you teach sharing or taking turns? Does it really make a difference? Let me know in the comments and check back next week for Positive Parenting Series – Week 3: Time-outs, time-ins, and cool downs.

Read Week 1: Parenting From the Heart here