In keeping with our topic this week we are going to touch more on the topic of sharing and add in a bit of turn-taking as well. Before we do that we need to consider your child’s age! For example, a one-year-old is not going to understand sharing yet like we might expect a five-year-old to understand. That said, the following strategy has been in my tool belt and used successfully with children as young as two years of age (children both with and without autism and language delays/disorders).
So what is one of my favorite strategies that I want you to try this week?
Using a timer. The best option: A visual timer.
Where do you find a visual timer? If you are a lover of apple products like I am chances are your iPhone and iPad have them for free! Just go to the clock/alarm and click on the “timer” option. (Hint: in order for it to work you may need to turn the phone or iPad sideways for the visual timer to appear. You will know you found it if you get the picture of the clock and the red area that gets smaller and smaller as time passes on the timer you set).
It’s powerful when your child can SEE the red disappearing. They learn quickly that when it is gone that means their time is up. Some kiddos will sit there and actually hold the toy and watch the time run out (rather than playing). This is okay! Let them do their thing!
If you don’t have the app go to the app store and look one up. Here is an example of a free one: Visual Timer App
or you can purchase one here on Amazon: 3-inch timer (good for travel, can fit in your purse!) or 8-inch timer (good for home use).
How long should it take my child to understand the timer strategy?
Expect to do this several times before it clicks. As with anything else that is new, this needs to be learned and that can take time. If you do it daily for a week your kiddo should have it down by the end of the week!
What happens if it ends in a meltdown at first? That is OKAY!! I know, I know. This is NOT what you want to hear. But just like anything else that you introduce that is new, it is unfamiliar. When things are not familiar and cause change for our kiddos, it can initially cause anxiety over the simple fact that it is new. It is our job to introduce it (keeping the timer to a minute or less the first day…working up to a minute for each year that they are old, so a five year old would have a goal of 5 minutes of play before the timer goes off and they are expected to share).
Just remember your child’s meltdown is a form of communication. They are telling you they are unhappy with this change. They will resist it. Expect that will happen. Once they are out of melt-down-mode you can explain that when the timer goes off its time to share it with ____(insert sibling/friend name). Then that sibling/friend gets 1 minute on the timer to play with the toy. When the timer goes off again it will be their turn once again. Wash, rinse, repeat.
The more you practice the quicker they will understand and the faster you will have their buy in. When your child KNOWS what to expect, and we set such expectations, they WILL rise to the occasion!
Disclaimer: Practice this as much as you’d like or as long as your child will tolerate it. If your child loses interest in that toy (either your child or the other child for that matter) there is no need to continue working on sharing it. Sometimes this happens before the timer even goes off (you’ll know they’ve lost interest if they hand the toy over or put it down before their turn is up).
Give this a go this week and report back on how it’s going! Questions can be answered below or over on our facebook page!