Nine Things to Help Kids Learn to Wait

The speed of the computer is one reason we all, including our children, have trouble waiting. It leads all of us to be impatient with waiting and want everything instantly. We have learned to measure all interactions in terms of seconds. How fast can I get to a new screen, get the answer to my question, or make contact with another person?  “No waiting” is how we judge the value of a product or service.
Nine things that can help kids learn to wait:
  1. Let them struggle to put the puzzle together – don’t immediately “show” them.
  2. Let them reach for a toy – don’t hand it to them.
  3. Let them learn to turn a toy on or open it up – don’t do it for them.
  4. Don’t replace a lost pet so they won’t have to be sad. Wait until they have worked through being sad and the time is right for the whole family to have a new pet.
  5. Don’t give them money when they are “dying” for some new thing. Help them plan a way to earn their own money for the thing they want.
  6. Have house rules, stick to them, and hold the line when it comes to consequences for breaking rules.
  7. Teach about cause and effect. For example, when there is a consequence to breaking rules or otherwise messing up, do no make excuses for them. In a matter-of-fact way, let them pay the consequence. Understanding cause and effect is at the heart of learning to wait. When they plan for something and stick to it they can cause the effect of getting what they want.
  8. Stay calm and in control when a tantrum hits. When we jump in and “help” to avoid a tantrum, we stop kids from persisting to get what they want or need. They get what they want right away, but don’t learn how to plan and struggle to get what they want.
  9. Teach about sadness. For example, don’t buy them things or give them special privileges when they are sad about something. Let them see that if they wait a little while, their feelings can change and they will feel better. Instead, comfort your children when they are sad, but let them learn to hang in there, wait a while, plan some ways to feel better, and see that they can count on better times ahead.

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