Teaching Kids to Wait, Part 1.

We have been amazed at how much good parenting information is in children’s picture books – books that we hope you are reading everyday to the children in your lives – your own, your class, those you take care of.  We will be pointing these parenting gems out to you so that every time you read one of our featured books to a child you will be reminded of the parent you want to be.

Featured Picture Book


(Available in public libraries or bookstores, including online stores.)

In TIA ISA WANTS A CAR, Tia Isa desperately wants a car so she can drive to the beach that reminds her of her island homeland.  The problem is that Tia Isa doesn’t have enough money.  When her brother hears of her plan, “’Don’t be ridiculous!’” he says.  “’You are not a rich queen!’”  But, Tia Isa is determined, “We’ll see about that,” she answers.

Tia Isa knew, “’… it’s hard to wait for good things to happen,’” but she would say, “’We’ll have the money soon,’ …”  However, Tia Isa’s niece knew that  “… soon is when our family is going to join us here, … soon can be a very long time.”  She knew she needed to do something to help.

Without Tia Isa knowing, she seeks all sorts of odd jobs to earn money for the car.

Even though, of everything she earned, a large amount was “’ … helping money …” which was sent back home, one day Tia Isa’s niece realized, “…my secret money sock has grown into a giant money sausage…”  The wait was over.  The goal was reached.

Tia Isa’s niece announced to everyone she saw, “’Tia Isa bought a car!’”  It was a long wait, but good things really did happen, just like Tia Isa and her niece knew they would all along.

Parenting Thoughts

Saying “No”

The ability to wait for things is one thing we could teach children that would keep them out of many different kinds of trouble. Impulsiveness, I-want-what-I-want-and-I-want-it-now attitudes and no ability to plan and wait for results are at the root of so many troubles kids get into.  They can’t share with their brothers, sisters and friends.  Money burns a hole in their pockets.  As soon as that money arrives from a gift or a tooth fairy – off they go to the store.  The inability to wait leads to sexual behavior too early and without precaution.  It leads to sluffing off schoolwork and making poor career decisions.  Planning for a career is a long-term plan, something you have to work for in school and wait for your skills and opportunities to come together throughout your life.

Children, today, have so much“stuff” that items become meaningless quickly or are so lost among the piles of stuff that they don’t even know what they have to play with.  They need more and more to keep their interest.  The fun is in the rush they get from getting something new – from doing the shopping.  Thus the excitement of having the item to wear or play with lasts very little.  In no time they have moved on to the next thing they want to have the rush of buying or getting.  This is for another posting, but those descriptions sound a lot like what goes on with addictions of all sorts – food, tobacco, medications, drugs, alcohol.

From having so much, children today believe life owes them a comfortable life with all their needs met.  When they start to realize that isn’t going to happen without effort, the misery of overindulgence sets in.  The overindulged child is often not a happy adult.  They haven’t learned to work hard to meet their own needs.  They have an attitude that life owes them comforts.  If they want something, they buy it – or their parents buy it for them.  They haven’t learned that life is not fair.  They may not have good friendships because they haven’t become very friendly, giving people.  And, they are not sure who they can depend on to love them for who they are – or even just like them for who they are.

TV and teaching children to wait

I believe that teaching children to wait has gotten more and more difficult over time. As our world has speeded up, children have learned to expect everything instantly. They expect to get what they want when they want it, to get answers quickly, to be able to do things instantly and to have comforts that their parents worked for decades to have.  For example, kids go way to college now expecting to have the same comfortable living arrangements that their parents didn’t have until age 40 or later.

Personally, I always thought Sesame Street started the ball rolling in this direction.  Forty years ago it started saturating children with flashing words and numbers and short scenes that didn’t require much of any attention span on the part of the child.  If you are a parent, you probably grew up with this type of media.  How good are you at waiting for things?

Your children are faced with the same type of conditioning only more so because of today’s computer technology.  The speed of the computer leads all of us to be more 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.

Since we are on the topic of media, let me also say that the amount of advertising that surrounds our children also contributes to the no-waiting attitude.  The marketers propose a world where you keep buying new things, throwing away what’s old and responding immediately while supplies last.  Because new products are always right around the corner, there is no value to planning to own or waiting to own things.  In the future what you might be planning for will likely be obsolete.  “Now or never” is a real reality these days.

We must find a way to teach our children the virtues of planning and waiting. How much are you sharing with your kids about things you are planning and waiting for?

What good ideas do you have for how to teach this to your children?


DIY (Do-It-Yourself)

Find as many ways as possible to say or act out the following messages with your kids: (Adapted from GROWING UP AGAIN, Jean Illsley Clarke and Connie Dawson.)

  • You can say “no” but I will make sure you won’t hurt yourself or other people and things around you.
  • I will let you try over and over again because I know you can do it.
  • Here are things you need to know and be able to do to take care of yourself.
Read All About It

HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH, Jean Illsley Clarke, Connie Dawson and David J. Bredehoft

GROWING UP AGAIN, Jean Illsley Clarke and Connie Dawson


Surf the Internet:


money management for kids

child allowances

delayed gratification


terrible twos

terrific twos

advertising to kids

kids saying no

Teacher’s Corner:

Teachers, this is your place. Read all about how to use this blog in your classroom at the Teacher’s Corner.

Here are our newest ideas based on Teaching Kids to Wait.

Have students read the post and write about:

Whether they are good at setting goals and working to get them? Have them give examples.

  •        Their career aspirations. What are three things they want to do? What are they studying in school now that will help them reach that goal? What else will they need to study?
  •        Are they influenced by advertising they see on TV? Why or why not?
  •        Do they think there is too much advertising or the wrong type of advertising in our society? If so, what would they do about it? If not, why not?

What do you think?

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