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How To Teach Patience to a Toddler

Patience is a virtue but it can be tough to teach that to a toddler. Of course, they want what they want, and they want it now! But with patience and tips from this blog post, you can teach your little one how to wait for what they want. We’ll discuss the best ways to do this and how to handle tantrums when things don’t go their way.

Why Are Toddlers So Impatient?

Anyone who has spent time around a toddler knows they can be remarkably impatient. They want what they want when they want it, and they have little tolerance for delay. But why are toddlers so much more impatient than older children or adults?

They fail to think beyond the current situation

One possible explanation is that toddlers have not yet developed the ability to think about the future. In contrast, adults can anticipate how a situation will play out and plan accordingly. For toddlers, however, the present is all that exists. This can lead to frustration when they don’t get what they want immediately.

Lack of verbal skills

Another reason for toddler impatience is that they often lack the verbal skills to express their needs. This can leave them frustrated and helpless, leading to tantrums and other forms of acting out. However, as children learn to communicate more effectively, their patience level generally increases.

They don’t understand the concept of waiting

Finally, toddlers simply don’t understand the concept of waiting. They want what they want and don’t see why they should have to wait for it. This can be especially difficult when they immediately see other people getting what they want. Therefore, adults must be patient in explaining the concept of waiting to their toddlers. This goes hand in hand with the concept of time.

Tips For Teaching Patience To Toddlers

Now that we’ve discussed some reasons behind toddler impatience, let’s talk about how to teach patience to toddlers. Here are a few tips.

Encourage Them To Wait For What They Want

One of the best ways to teach child patience to toddlers is to encourage them to wait for what they want. Tell them they can have something in a little bit when they ask for something. This will help them understand that they need patience to get what they want.

kid sitting smile to camera sit with card and lesson timer

Use A Timer To Help Them Understand The Concept Of Waiting

Another helpful tip is to use a timer to help toddlers understand the concept of waiting. Set the timer for a short time, such as two minutes. Explain to your child that they need to wait until the timer goes off before they can have what they are asking for. This will help them understand that they need to wait a certain amount of time.

Give Them Something To Do While They Wait

If your child is having trouble waiting, give them something to do while they wait. That creates a distraction. It will help keep their mind occupied and distracted from the fact that they are waiting. For example, if they are waiting for a snack, you can give them a toy to play with while they wait.

Give Kudos For Good Behavior

Whenever your child exhibits good behavior, be sure to give them kudos. This will help reduce the delayed gratification and enforce the desired behavior. For example, if they wait patiently for their snack, praise them for their excellent behavior. This will encourage them to continue behaving in that manner.

Limit Screens

Well, one of the easiest ways to distract a toddler is to give them a phone or a tablet. That Tom and Jerry video that makes them laugh and smile might work best for the period. But what happens when they are in a screen-free situation? That’s where the tantrums come in. Limiting extra time on screens for toddlers will help them learn how to entertain themselves without screens. In addition, this will help them develop patience and other essential life skills they might need in the future.

Encourage Them To Play With Other Children

Another good tip is to encourage your child to play with other children. When they are around other children, they will have to share and take turns. This will help them develop patience and understand that they must wait their turn. It is also a good way for them to socialize and make friends.

Ask Them What They Would Love To Do

To make the waiting game more fun for toddlers, ask them what they would love to do. This way, they feel like they are in control and can choose an activity they enjoy. For example, if you’re going to the grocery store, ask them if they would like to ride in the shopping cart or push the buttons on the crosswalk signal. That sense of control plays a vital role.

Stop The Tantrums Before They Start

If you see a tantrum brewing, try to stop it before it starts. This can be not easy to do, but it is possible. Try to distract your child with something else or warn them that a tantrum is about to happen. This will help prevent it from happening in the first place.

Don’t Waiver from your Firmness

Even with all of these tips, there will still be times when your child throws a tantrum because they are impatient. It’s important to stay calm and not give in to their demands. If you do, they will learn they can get what they want by acting out. Instead, provide comfort and support while remaining firm on your decision.

Hide It if They Can’t Have It

If there is something that your child wants but can’t have, try to hide it from them. This will help prevent them from getting frustrated and acting up. For example, if they want a cookie but you say no, put the cookies away so they can’t see them. Please don’t leave them on the counter because they will keep asking for them regardless.

Be Patient Yourself

You cannot effectively teach your child to be patient if you’re not. So it would help if you modeled patience yourself. Show them how to be patient in different situations. This will help them learn the behavior themselves. Of course, they will likely have some setbacks and tantrums along the way. But if you are patient and consistent, they will eventually learn how to be patient.

It is essential to have realistic expectations when teaching patience to toddlers. They are still learning and developing, so they will likely have some setbacks along the way. But if you are patient and consistent, they will eventually learn how to be patient.

Signs That a Toddler Is Impatient

Here are six signs that your toddler may be impatient:

  • Your child frequently has meltdowns or tantrums.
  • Your child has trouble waiting their turn, whether it’s waiting in line or taking turns with a toy.
  • Your toddler doesn’t like changes in routine and can get very upset when things don’t go according to plan.
  • They are always on the go and seem unable to sit still for even a few minutes.
  • Your child has trouble sharing and may become possessive of their toys or other belongings.
  • They hate doing things that require them to use patience, such as waiting for food to cook or completing a puzzle.


How do you discipline a toddler for being impatient?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Every child is different and will respond to different disciplinary tactics. However, some general tips that may help include maintaining consistency, providing support and comfort, and remaining firm on decisions, among other things.

How long does it take to teach a toddler patience?

Again, this will vary from child to child. Some toddlers may learn patience relatively quickly, while others may take longer. It is essential to be patient (no pun intended) and consistent when teaching patience to a toddler.

Can yelling at a toddler scare them into being patient?

Yelling or raising your voice at a toddler is not likely to scare them into being more patient. Instead, it may have the opposite effect and make them more impatient and avoid bad habits. Therefore, it is vital to remain calm when teaching patience to a toddler.

Bottom line

One of the most important lessons parents can teach their children is patience. However, this can be difficult, especially with toddlers still learning to control their emotions. It is, however, possible. Just note that it is essential to have realistic expectations, remain consistent, and provide support and comfort. With time and patience, your child will also learn how to be patient.

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