Two kindergarten-aged boys happily take turns using toys.

How to Support Your 5 Year Old’s Social-Emotional Development by Taking Turns

Does your 5 year old wait patiently for their turn on the slide at the playground? Or for their teacher to call on their raised hand at school? Or for their turn to choose the book for storytime at home (if taking turns with you or their siblings)? Taking turns is a big milestone in your child’s Social-Emotional development.

Social-Emotional Learning is when your child uses information, skills, and mindsets to form healthy identities, understand and manage their emotions, set and achieve their own goals, and make responsible decisions. Your child’s ability to not only follow rules but to understand and apply them to interactions with others (like taking turns) is a huge step forward on their SEL journey.

Here are some easy ways to support your 5 year old’s Social-Emotional development by taking turns at home:

  • Take turns choosing the books for storytime. In addition to letting them practice taking turns, this can nurture your child’s empathy skills. If one of your children is having a bad day but it’s not their turn to choose the story, you may ask their older sibling, “Martin is having a bad day. I bet he would feel special if you would let him pick out the book today. Would you like to do that?”
  • Take turns flipping the pages during storytime. Establish a pattern for who turns the next page. You can tell your child, “I turn a page, then you turn the next page. We go back and forth each time.” Or, “Janelle turns a page, then Thomas turns the next page, then Kendra turns the next page. Then Janelle, Thomas, Kendra”. This reinforces how “taking turns” and patterns work. It also nurtures their literacy skills by encouraging interactions with storytime.
  • Take turns when talking by using a “Talking Item” during conversations. Designate a stress ball or a safe household object as your “Talking Item”. A stress ball shaped like Earth could be your “Talking Planet” that you pass to the person whose turn it is to talk. You and your child can take turns talking this way.

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