Teach Your Child To WAIT

My Husband and I recently surprised our girls with a trip to Great Wolf Lodge. As my hubby and 4 yo were off exploring all of the amazing slides and adventures that those above 42″ could discover, I was stuck on baby pool island with my 1 yo, lol. However, Quinn did not mind one bit because she was OBSESSED with this tiny slide where she could be completely independent. At times, this slide became very congested with other “Below 42 inch” kiddos that required some ‘waiting’ to go down this slide. I cannot tell you how many times I heard other parents say, “Oh, sorry, my kid doesn’t know how to wait!”…  or “Oh, these kids are too young to understand the concept of waiting!”

What if I told you that there was a way to teach your child the concept of waiting… Even as young as a 1 year old…..

As this slide was becoming more packed, my little Quinny Bear waited her turn and all I had to do was provide her the prompt of, “Quinn… Show me waiting!” and gave her the visual of my index finger pointing up (holding up one finger). When it was her turn, I said, “Okay Quinn… Your turn!” Then off she went.

child waiting to go down slide

Now, this does not happen over night and as everything else, we work on this outside of times when I REALLY need my girls to wait. So, below is the progressions that I use to teach waiting!

How I teach waiting

For training purposes, let’s assume a child is eating a cracker.

  • Find an activity that can be easily stopped (show on an iPad, small snack, etc). 

When you are first starting, make it a cracker that is NOT their all time favorite but one that they still like. The reason- you will be delaying access to the cracker when teaching your child what “waiting” means so you do not want the cracker to be SUPER reinforcing.

Parent should be in control of starting and stopping the activity (i.e. holding the cracker)

  • After a child eats a SMALL bite of the cracker, it is assumed that she will want more. Before going in for the second bite, state, “Wait” and wait for 1 second. If your child waits successfully for 1 second, provide them the cracker and pair it with verbal praise.

  • After several attempts of waiting successfully for 1 second, move on to waiting for 5 seconds while doing the same thing as stated above.

  • After several successful attempts at a 5 second wait time, move on to 10 seconds and then 20 seconds and so on.

  • You will eventually work your way up to waiting for longer periods of time. You will also work towards having your child wait for items that are more reinforcing. 

Once your child understands the concept of waiting, they will understand that even if they have to “give something up”, they know they will eventually get it back so it typically does not result in a major meltdown… It is a WONDERFUL tool to put in your BeeHaven Tribe Tool Belt. 💪

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