How To Teach Little Kids To Wait

Waiting is hard, even for adults. But for little kids, it can be ten times worse. Here are some tricks and tips on how to teach little kids to wait.


Waiting is a part of life. We wait for so many things, for our train or bus to arrive, plane to land, our car to get fixed; heck, we wait nine whole months just waiting to welcome our little ones into the world! As adults, we get used to waiting, as it is a part of life that we have to deal with. But with little children, waiting can be hard; they always want to be on the go, go, go! Here are some tricks and tips on how to teach little kids to wait.

When Shopping

When out shopping with your child, a dreaded temper tantrum can hit at any time, right in the middle of aisle seven, and it would make you want to up and leave your shopping cart right there. But there are ways to tame the tantrums.

On the way to the store with your child, talk to them about your expectations going in, so they know what is happening. For example, you can tell them that you will only purchase them one snack, an apple or an orange, and give them a choice. Tell them that besides that, there will be no other items other than the ones on your list that you will be purchasing that day.

Bring along a clipboard, paper, and some colored pencils or crayons with you. While you are doing your shopping, and your little one is sitting in the cart, they can pretend to write up their very own grocery list. They’ll be proud of it, and they can show you after you checkout.

Avoid Technology

While it is almost all too easy to hand our children our phones or our tablets these days, it is not the best option to keep your child occupied. There are a few reasons for this. First, they are always going to expect that same gadget everytime they have to wait. Second, with too much screen time, it can become pretty addicting to children, and if not given the technology of choice, they may throw an even bigger tantrum.

Jump Around

If you are in a place where you have to wait that isn’t too crowded, have your child get up and wiggle out some of that pent-up energy! Ask them to hop like a frog, or sway like a tree in the wind. This would not work if you were waiting in line somewhere, but for places where it is already loud, like airports, or train stations, this is a great activity to do with your children.

Music Time

If you have an old MP3 player around your home somewhere, one without a screen, preferably, load some of your child’s favorite music onto it! Ask them what their favorite songs are; this will make them feel special and involved. If they are in a place where it needs to be a quiet space, hook up some headphones to the MP3 player, and let them be-bop away to the music!

Be Silly

Being silly is so much fun! Sometimes as adults we forget how much fun being a kid was. Making your child laugh is a precious thing. You can do things like making silly faces, say a silly nursery rhyme, or even make up the lyrics to their favorite songs to make them giggle! Being silly is a good way to take their mind off of the fact that they are waiting.

Have Travel Games Handy

Next time you are at the store, pick up a few travel-sized games. If you know that you are going somewhere and you know that there is going to be a long wait, grab one of the games on your way out the door. When you’re at your destination, and you are waiting, take the game out, and start playing it with your child. Boom, instant fun! Another great idea is travel coloring packs that come with little coloring pages and a small pack of crayons, so the kids can color away while they wait.

Show Patience Yourself

There is no right or wrong way on how to teach little kids to wait. But it is important for you to model patience while waiting. Kids learn from their parents. If they start to get a little fussy, try to keep them engaged in conversation; ask them to use their words to tell you how they are feeling, what is wrong, etc.

Also read:

Jennifer Corter
Jennifer Corter is a twenty-something stay-at-home mother, writer, and self-published author. She's the founder of Positivity in Pain, a community of over 84,000 people who have come together to fight chronic illness with humor. She also writes for her personal blog, Corter Moon, and is a self-taught jewellery artisan.