I learned a long time ago that taking turns makes much more sense to children than sharing. There’s something in us that often rebels against the idea of having to share, let’s say a toy, with another person. I often tell parents that, for kids, sharing feels like they’re giving something up against their will. Suddenly, he or she wants it even more than before. I ask parents how they might feel if I asked them to give me their shoes or purse – right now. And that I would determine when they got it back.
The concept of taking turns feels fair and is fair as long as the adult keeps an eye out for the length of the turn. It is also extremely rare that I have to resort to timing a turn with a toy. I am still amazed that, when asked to return or give the contested toy to the other child, they do so on their own, after, more times than not, what feels to me an appropriate amount of time. You can tell that the child handing over the toy is proud. Children have a deep innate sense of fairness.