If you find your toddler has no patience, don’t worry. Not only is it not a reflection of your child’s personality, but most toddlers do not know how to be patient. The reason for this is that patience is a learned skill. Here are 5 ways you can start teaching your child how to be patient.
1.Give your toddler a visual concept of time
If you have ever found yourself in the kitchen cooking with a toddler crying for food, you have probably said the words “It will be ready in two minutes” or some such variant. The problem with this is that toddlers have no concept of time or how long those two minutes are. Try using an egg-timer or mini hourglass. You can then say, “When all the sand reaches the bottom, your food will be ready.” This helps your child feel heard and gives them an end time that makes waiting easier.
2. Play games to teach patience
Try incorporating board games into playtime that make each player have to wait their turn. When your child starts to get used to waiting their turn to do something, the concept of patience will embed itself in their mind. If they continually try playing out of turn, stop them and say “You need to be patient and wait your turn. That’s how this game works”.
3. Carefully reward patience
Sometimes, whatever your child has to be patient for is a reward in itself. When this is the case, praise their patience. “Look, you were patient, and the cake is now ready to eat. Well done!”. If your child is patient when at the shops or on a car trip, get them a small reward when their good behaviour stands out. This treat must be your idea and not something they have been asking for at that moment – but rather a small surprise. Say “I know we had to stand in the queue for a long time, and you were so patient and well-behaved. I got you/made you this to say thank you for being patient”.
If you are on a car trip and your child is wanting out or asking ‘are we there yet’ repeatedly, the best way to teach patience is to distract them. Play age-appropriate games like eye-spy, spot the cow, or what’s your favourite car. Distracting them will get their mind off their impatience, and at the end of the car trip or waiting period remember to point this out to them “look how quickly that went when we were playing games. Thank you for being patient.”
5. Self-play to teach patience
In an ever-distracting world, children often don’t know how to occupy themselves without input from others or electronic devices. The best way to teach them this is to get them to have self-play time from an early age. Give them time to sit with blocks and play with them without input. Sit them on the floor and let them play with the grass beneath them. As they become more mobile, let them safely explore by themselves. Once your child knows how to play alone, use their imagination and surroundings for entertainment, they will be able to distract themselves in times when patience is needed.
Toptots Early Learning SA