Turn Taking is an important skill for a young child to develop. Communication is a give and take process much like taking turns. Of course many young children are still learning to share and take turns with their toys. However, turn taking to help promote language skills looks a little different.
Turn taking for language refers to the back and forth interaction between you and your child. This could be with gestures, signs, sounds, or words. Basically, you want your child use the same number of communicative turns as you. For young children learning to talk this involves more silence on the part of the caregiver.
To help promote turn taking skills you can pause and look expectantly at your child and wait for him to do or say something to communicate with you. For instance you can roll a ball back and forth and wait for your child to indicate that he wants the ball back. You can also blow bubbles with your child and wait for your child to do or say something to let you know that he wants more bubbles.
Imitating your child helps promote turn taking skills too. If you have a baby, imitate your baby’s babbling. Then wait for your baby to babble again before you imitate that. For a toddler, you can imitate words or actions or play a game of copycat. It doesn’t have to involve words either. You can imitate your child’s play activities. For instance, if your child hits a toy with his hand you can hit the toy with your hand. This takes the child’s actions and brings you into his world and makes his play time an opportunity to communicate.
Turn taking is a major skill that a child needs in order to build a solid foundation of language skills. Children who struggle with this area may not see the joy in communicating and may not be motivated to learn language. For a child who is in his/her “own little world” you want to focus on this strategy because a child needs strong turn taking skills in order to build quality language skills.