Helping your toddler learn tolerance and “waiting”

teaching patience

Does your toddler want everything RIGHT now?  Delaying gratification increases tolerance over time.

One great play-based strategy is to engage your child by using an anticipatory routine.  This is a back and forth exchange between you and him where, at a certain point, you pause and wait for your child to indicate he wants the next playful step to unfold.  A common anticipatory routine is Peek-A-Boo.  This game connects the two of you and teaches him how to relate to family members – these fun games could not occur without the very important parent!

A great way to advance your child’s tolerance and “waiting” skills is to stretch out the length of time that you pause.  An ideal time is when your child is covering his eyes because it means the game is already in action and he is engaged with you.  Consider stretching out the amount of time he has to wait for you to come out with the big, smiley “there he is” by waiting a few extra seconds.  Ask “where is he?” an extra time or two.  Allow him to see you searching in other places, maybe behind the couch or under the table, before getting close, which often indicates you are ready for the big reveal.

Children learn the skill of tolerance and waiting during fun, anticipatory play and this will automatically carry-over to times when waiting is not so easy for them, say right before a meal.

If your child does not yet participate in anticipatory routine add “Ready, Set….Go” combined with baby sign language before simple rough and tumble games on the floor.  It is a wonderful way to introduce him to learning the rules of waiting and adds functional language to activities you already enjoy.

What are your favorite back and forth play routines with your child?  How do you see these supporting your child’s tolerance for waiting, emotional connection and communication skills?

Want more ideas to decrease stress? Call/email us today to schedule your private parenting consultation at 651-705-6665 / Relief@mad2glad.com


  • Anna says:

    In general I like to let my kids struggle to figure out games or even conflicts with each other among themselves with gentle coaching form me instead of solving the problem myself and stopping the argument. Instead I ask questions like: does that seem to be working? How do you think that made them feel? to help lead them to the conclusion instead of just solving it myself. It can certainly be more frustrating but it is also so much more fulfilling to see their epiphany moment!

    • Samantha Moe says:

      I applaud your line of thinking Anna. When we can slow things down in emotional situations it helps kids access their feelings and solutions. Helping them become more independent in this is good for them but also means you won’t have kids who rely on you forever!

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