Translated literally (according to an old friend – Google translate), “chacun son tour” means “each in turn” or most commonly “wait your turn”. But if you are a native French-speaker, you know that “wait your turn” is not a true representation of what it truly means in French.
The phrase “wait for your turn” emphasises the action of waiting for the child; whereas “chacun son tour” emphasises a lot more on a collaborative approach.
This is a very fine distinction which can sound rather superficial, but this fine line makes a whole difference in a kids’ understanding. It is very different to be asked to wait for your turn compared to be asked to work together so that each can have a turn.
This phrase “chacun son tour” is taught to French kids from a very early age. This is part of our cultural heritage and marks the beginning of teaching good manners (in a French way) to your children.
Many speech therapists in France link the development of early literacy skills to the concept of “chacun son tour” which is a stone in the path of learning to speak French.
Did you know that from 3 or 4 months old, a baby makes sounds which imitates his or her parents in response to them. This is the first sign of “chacun son tour”.
But learning the meaning of “chacun son tour” is not easy for young kids who are used to live following their feelings and natural impulses.
Rather, learning the meaning of “chacun son tour” requires some social abilities which are crucial to the development of young kids as it will in-turn teach them the importance of good social relationships with their peers.
This requires some self-control and self-discipline, but this can be broken down step by step as outlined in this article.
The Key Steps to learning “chacun son tour”
Between birth and 1 year of age, babies do not realise yet that they are a little person distinct from his/her parents. Waiting is sometimes said to create distress.
Babies want to be reassured by being cuddled, included in conversations, and part of the daily routines. It is very likely that a baby who is asked to wait for its turn will start crying.
Nothing wrong here, this is just a natural feeling. Around 1 year old, babies will progressively develop their tolerance to the concept of waiting.
Up to 2 ½ / 3 years old, toddlers are extremely sensitive to changes and can react when asked to wait. Ever heard of the “terrible 2s”?!
Well, this is part of the reason why. Toddlers find it difficult to understand someone else’s opinion or request.
It is therefore very important to clearly explain what is expected of them when asked not to answer straight away, or when asked to wait.
Toddlers need routine, and routine requires clear instructions. This is when they learn to manage their own frustration and emotions.
It is only around 4 years old that kids grasp their capacity to wait. They have a better understanding of simple requests. They are more autonomous and can tolerate waiting.
It is important to remember these steps when teaching “chacun son tour”. This allows parents to lower their expectations and adjust depending on which development stage your kids are at.
How to stimulate communication and “chacun son tour” daily?
With young kids, repetition is key. The more you do the same action, the quicker they will grasp it without even realising it.
The concept of “chacun son tour” can be introduced as soon as your child has an interest in others and what they do.
From 18 months old, try to incorporate the “chacun son tour” in a simple task where you let your child do something before you.
For example, before bedtime when washing your teeth, tell your child that he or she will brush his/her teeth first and that you will do so afterwards.
Tell your child that it is “chacun son tour” and that you are waiting for your turn. Kids learn by example so the more you model that behaviour, the more they will reproduce the same behaviour.
From 2 years of age, start pointing to situations where others around you are waiting for their turns and explain that by doing so the situation remains calm.
Start with simple situations and gradually introduce more complex ones. Do not underestimate your child’s ability to understand and don’t forget that your child learns best by following your example.
- when you go to the beach and need to rinse the sand off, show your kids that people are waiting in line for their turn to have a shower and that we will wait in-line too;
- when doing grocery shopping, point your child to the line at the register and show your kid that everyone is waiting for their turn because it is “chacun son tour”
- when going to the coffee shop or to a restaurant, point to the fact that people who arrived before you are served first;
- when getting on a bus, point to the fact that people are getting on one-by-one.
When explaining so, emphasise on what would happen if people did not wait for their turns. Would it still be calm? Would it be nice? Would your kid like it if someone else would take his/her turn?
These are simple daily moments which will emphasise the importance of “chacun son tour” from an early age.
“Chacun son tour” is best learnt while having fun
The best and most effective way to teach your child “chacun son tour” remains while having fun and playing games involving multiple participants.
Board games are great as they naturally invite kids to wait for their turns. I wrote another blog post outlining the 5 reasons why you should play collaborative board games with your kids.
Here are some suggestions to help you prepare the activity:
- Follow your child’s interest by picking a game which interests him/her the most. For example, if your child prefers quiet activities, prepare memory game instead of an activity involving his/her gross motor skills.
- Prepare the activity so that your child is naturally prompted to wait for a turn. For example, if you want to play a memory game, make sure you each pick a card to play so that you take turns.
- Use objects to play with which are of interest to your child.
- When starting the activity, explain to your child that you will play together “chacun son tour” and remind your child of what that means.
- Say out-loud whose turn it is: “À Maman, à Pierre” or “C’est à toi, c’est à moi” while pointing to the person. During the game, ask your child: “C’est à qui le tour?” so that he or she gets to say whose turn it is next.
- Once your child has grasped “chacun son tour” with two players, ask your second half to join in so that you can play the same game with three players and increase the level of difficulties for your child.
“Chacun son tour”
Your child’s ability to develop and grasp the concept of “chacun son tour” will help him or her develop his/her social skills which are key to his/her social development.
The ability to follow the rules and wait for his/her turn and respect others’ turns too will help understand and follow rules when starting school.
Used daily, the concept of “chacun son tour” becomes easier to grasp and incorporate.
So, let’s have fun… chacun son tour!
Do you have any other recommendations to help your child learn to wait for his/her turn, or have any questions? We’d love to hear from you below.