Five minutes can feel like an hour to a young child. Here are some tips for building the skill of patience (which is necessary over a lifetime!):

  • Show by example. When you have to wait, try to model patience as best you can. Say, “Even grown-ups have to wait their turn.”
  • Imagination is a great time-filler. Make up a story or a little song to help wait times go faster.
  • When you’re going somewhere, avoid “Are we there yet?” questions by playing a game of “I Spy” using things you pass on your way. You could also ask kids to count all the red things they see, or to count people’s shoes.
  • If there’s something special coming up soon, write it on the calendar. Each day, count how many days are left until the event date. Anticipation can be fun!
  • Instead of acting right away when a child wants attention, help them learn to wait with a timer. Say, “I’ll be ready to give you my attention in three minutes,” and let them measure the time.
  • Baking can show kids that some things are worth waiting for. Ask them to measure, mix, and wait while a treat bakes and cools. Ask, “What would happen if we didn’t stir everything, or if we didn’t let the cake (or cookies) finish baking?”
  • Planting seeds for fast-growing plants or flowers is another way to show kids that good things happen after having to wait.