How to Help Your Child Share

Share_toys_autismWhen working with my students in their homes, I often focus on teaching them to share and take turns. I know this can be a HUGE challenge for your child. Understanding that once he puts a toy down, someone else can use it, and toys that I bring to his house are for both of us to play with, are difficult concepts to learn. However, it’s not impossible to teach your child to share.

Here’s the system that I created that works like a charm.

  1. Fill a pillowcase with approximately 8 toys. Cause and effect toys are great, especially if the toys spin or make music.
  2. Sing a little jingle to indicate that you are getting ready to choose a toy. For example, “It’s my turn, it’s my turn. It’s my turn to choose a toy.”
  3. You can go first so that you can model this skill for your child. Without looking and only using your sense of touch, choose a toy from the bag. Play with the toy and be really excited about it. Say phrases such as, “It’s my turn.” Put your hand on your chest as you are saying, “My turn,” to make it even clearer whose turn it actually is.
  4. If and when your child goes to grab the toy from your hand, say, “Oops, not yet,” or “In a minute.” Then keep playing with the toy.
  5. Approximately one-minute later, ask, “Do you want a turn?” Depending on his response, gently tap your child on his shoulder and say, “Your turn.”
  6. Then hand him the toy.
  7. Let him play with the toy for about one minute. Then say, “May I have a turn?”
  8. If he pulls the toy away from you, or indicates that he doesn’t want to share, say, “Say, in a minute Ms. Jen.”
  9. About one minute later, say, “Okay, it’s my turn.”
  10. If he still doesn’t give up the toy, you may need to intervene and provide physical prompting. Say again, “Okay, it’s my turn.” Then hand-over-hand have him give you the toy.
  11. Play with the toy for a few more seconds and then place the toy back in the bag.
  12. Then hand the bag over to your child, and now it’s his turn to choose a toy. Say to him, “Okay, your turn to choose.”

Practice the same system with him during his turn, but allow him to play with the toy first. When his turn is over, after you get to play with the toy, and you hand it back to him, have him put the toy back in the bag. You can play this game as long as you want, but I usually play so that we each have two turns choosing a toy from the bag.

This activity is also great for practicing phrases such as “my turn” and “your turn.”

Have fun! Remember, playing is all about having fun.

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