How to Make a Preschooler Wait for His Turn: 8 Steps
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Board games can help preschoolers learn to wait their turn.

"It’s my turn!” “No, it’s my turn!” “Mommy!” It’s peacemaker mommy to the rescue--again. If the battle of turns hasn’t raged in your house yet, it’s only a matter of time. Preschoolers want what they want and they want it now. Words and phrases like “Wait your turn” and "patience" just aren’t in their vocabulary yet. That doesn’t mean you can’t teach them to learn to wait patiently and make it fun while they’re learning.


  1. 1
    Play with your son and one of his favorite toys. Tell him it’s his turn while he’s playing with the toy. Hold out your hand for the toy and say, “My turn,” after he’s played with it for a bit. Encourage him to talk about the toy while you’re playing with it to help pass the time. Then, pass it back to him and say, “Your turn.”
  2. 2
    Read books together. Tell her it’s her turn to flip the first page. On the second page, say, “My turn” and turn the page, then let her have a turn again. Alternate back and forth, saying “My turn” and “Your turn” each time. You can also take turns talking about what is happening on each page.
  3. 3
    Sing songs together. Take turns picking songs or alternate who sings each line. You could sing “Old McDonald” and take turns picking animals.
  4. 4
    Get out his favorite board games. Say, “Wait for your turn,” throughout the game as he waits, hopefully patiently. Tell him, “It’s your turn,” when he’s up to spin, roll the dice or move his game piece.
  5. 5
    Talk about taking turns throughout your day. For example, if you’re in line at the grocery store, explain to your daughter that you’re waiting for your turn at the register. When you get to the cashier, say, “It’s our turn!” You can do the same at the gas station or a traffic light. Preschoolers take in everything their mommy does, so pay attention to your reactions when you have to wait in these situations.
  6. 6
    Keep any explanations for turn waiting short. A simple, “It’s John’s turn right now. You’re next,” works best.
  7. 7
    Set a timer so she can see exactly how much time she has left until it’s her turn again. This works best at home when you have a timer handy.
  8. 8
    Teach him strategies to help him wait patiently for his turn. You might suggest he sing his favorite song, find something else to play with if he’s waiting for a toy or talk to the person standing in line next to him.

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Categories: Education and Communications

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