Mama Mantra: You Can Have a Turn When I’m Done

Posted December 5, 2022 by Prairie Wife -

“You can have a turn when I’m done.”

It’s a phrase that is repeated often around here and one that my children learn to say at a young age.

In a family with 5 children, one thing my kids all learned to do when they were pretty young was share. While they each had a special stuffed animal gifted to them at birth that was just theirs, almost every toy in the house is available for all of their siblings or friends to play with.

The exception to this was for the first few days after birthdays and Christmas when they didn’t have to let other children play with their toys.

BUT we did have a rule about sharing that I expected all of the children in our house to follow.

If someone asks to play with a toy, no matter how nicely they ask, whoever is playing with it does NOT have to stop playing and hand the toy over immediately.

Instead, they say, “You can have a turn when I’m done.” and then they have the responsibility to make sure they give that toy to the child that asked when they are done.

I don’t think it’s realistic or correct to force a child to immediately hand over a toy they enjoy just because someone asked them to.

have a turn


After all, that’s not how the world works.

As an adult, I would not simply hand over a pen to someone that asked me…and then wait until they were done to finish my task.

And, likely, it wouldn’t be expected for me to do that.

It would be rude if the person huffed and puffed while I finished writing and was irritated and brisk with me for not handing the pen over the second they said they needed it.

It’s perfectly reasonable to allow one child to finish playing with a toy before they give it to another child to play with.

Saying, “you can have a turn when I’m done,” allows the child playing with the toy to finish what they’re doing and gives the child who wants the toy a chance to learn to wait for their turn OR to decide it’s not worth the wait and find something else to do.

An unexpected benefit of this rule has been teaching my children how to speak up for themselves firmly and respectfully.

It has also taught my children to have patience and the fundamental lesson that they won’t always get exactly what they want when they want it!

Now, of course, you have the times when the child playing with the toy will hang on to it for an insanely long amount of time to avoid sharing…and at times like this, I step in and help them realize it’s time to set aside their feelings and share!

Overall, we’ve had a lot of success teaching our children (and their friends) to share this way, and I think it works even better the older they get.

What do you think about teaching children to share this way?

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Categories: Life As It Happens, Parenting

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