Preschool teachers deal with young children who often don’t understand what it means to share and take turns. Sometimes children can have different expectations of sharing, like thinking that another child is supposed to immediately hand over what their playing with, which can often cause conflicts.
Below are some tips for teaching your young preschoolers to share and take turns and set them up for positive socialization:
1. Use puppets and dolls. Recreate a conflict or common behaviors you witnessed the children dealing with throughout the day. Talk about what the puppets are doing and saying and ask the children how they would solve the issue.
2. Read about sharing. There are plenty of books to teach children about sharing and taking turns. Find some with characters who are sharing and are not sharing. Talk about the emotions of the characters and ask your preschoolers what they would do.
3. Positive reinforcement. Always try to point out good sharing and turn taking when you see it. Be sure to reward them with a sticker or prize. Children can sometimes be unaware they are using good social skills. You might say, “Sharing the play dough and scissors made you both happy.”
4. Use a timer or waiting list for popular toys and areas of the room. This gives your preschoolers a visual to help them understand how turn-taking and sharing works. A sand timer is a great tool, because they can see the path of time. Create a waiting list when you have popular areas of the room that can get crowded like a sensory area or craft table. To do this, have them write their name on a list or place their photo name card in a pocket chart by the area they want to spend time in. After the children have had their turn, have them make a checkmark by their name or remove their photo card from the pocket chart.
5. Give the children a chance to resolve their own conflicts. If you jump in too soon, you can hinder them from practicing interaction skills. Only intervene if the problem clearly isn’t getting solved after some time. You can also focus on teaching skills to solve these conflicts during group time.