How to Teach Toddlers Patience

How to Teach Toddlers Patience

Teach toddlers patience? Are you insane! Try out our step by step guide and see the results for yourself.

Define Patience

You need one clear definition of what patience is.


It is important to stick with one definition of patience because you can easily confuse a child by changing your words. What ever definition you choose make sure that it is two sentences or less. We adopted Joyce Meyers definition and our three year old son can be told to wait with patience and he will wait for hours. Any one can wait but waiting with a good attitude is being willing to wait.

How to Talk About Patience

When you are asking your toddler to wait tell them the definition of what patient is. If they start to whine tell them what they are doing is wrong and tell them what behavior you want them to display instead.

For example
“Mommy I would like milk please.”
“I will get you milk in a moment please wait patiently.” It is amazing how children react differently when you make the distinction of waiting and waiting patiently.
“Mommy I want milk now! WHINE WHINE WHINE.”
“Right now you are whining and asking me more than once. You asked me and I answered. You need to wait patiently.”
Then immediately give them the definition you have chosen. If they continue to whine than have a consequence. I use timeout, a minute for each year of age on a timer.

Be Consistent (Even when your busy)

How consistent? If you want the harvest you have to tend the garden.  If your busy make time. Stop what you are doing and make eye contact. There is a reason why there are so many impatient people in this world and that is because it takes patience to teach patience. Also if you are not consistent than there is a very small chance that patience will become a core character trait.

Follow through

Once you have asked your toddler to wait remember to follow through. If they think that what ever they have asked for won’t come and you asking them to wait is your way of saying no than when you ask them to be patient they will throw a tantrum. A great tip for making sure you remember is to set a time limit for yourself to deliver on your promise. If my son asks for a cup of milk I won’t make him wait more than five minutes. If my children want to go outside to play I won’t make them wait more than twenty minutes. This is all at your discretion however following through is just as important as consistency.

DON’T say “I won’t forget”
DO say “I will remember”
WHY if you say forget when you are trying to remember something guess what happens. You forget. Reprogram your brain.

Give Them A Time Frame

A good rule of thumb is if it is more than five minutes warn your toddler. Tell them how long it will be before you can deliver. This will help your child not feel anxious. If you don’t specify that it will take time they won’t be able to help but continue to ask and ask and ask. If you know it will be longer than fifteen minutes set a timer for them to listen for. When you set a timer they will feel relaxed knowing that they will get what they want when they hear the bell so they forget about it and let it go. This is also great to do with toddlers because it helps them get a feel for time and how to judge it. That way when you are in public or on a car ride when you say it will be about thirty minutes they will have an idea of what it feels like for that amount of time to pass.

Be Realistic

If your child is asking for a need like water, food, or to go to the restroom than be realistic about how long they can wait. If you ask your toddler to wait for a need for to long than you will destroy your efforts for teaching patience. If your child is asked to wait for something they need and it isn’t delivered in time they will begin to resent patience and associate the word with negative feelings. This is what causes children to automatically get upset when they are told to wait.

Give Them an Activity

Idol hands are prone to mischief. If you ever want your child to misbehave, throw a tantrum or become outrageously annoying then ask them to wait with nothing to do. Set your child up for success here are a few ideas on how to help keep toddlers entertained.

Be Thankful

Children love praise! Say thank you when they you ask them to wait and they don’t get upset. Also say thank you when you deliver on your promise and they have waited with a good attitude. If it is possible I always try to over deliver. Sometimes that means a surprise cookie or extra play time. As if it couldn’t get any better being thankful not only makes your child feel confident but it teaches them how to be thankful. Let your toddler know how much God loves patience and that they are pleasing Him when they obey you.

Set a Good Example

How you react to how your child acts will say more than your words. We have all been brainwashed actions speak louder than words but do we believe it? Even if you get angry or frustrated make sure that you are setting a good example of patience.  If you feel overwhelmed then allow yourself to take a timeout. It is also a powerful example when you let your child know that you are upset but your choosing to act be calm. It is healthy to relate to your child and let them know you feel what they feel but you choose to act on what ever standards you have set.

Don’t Set Your Expectations to High

Toddlers are toddlers, we can’t expect them to be anything else. Right now you are planting seeds. Remember there is a season for everything. The toddler years is the season to plant the harvest will come later. However if you want to ever have a harvest you must tend the garden. It’s a great metaphor to because you hear people say that talking to plants helps them grow. That’s kind of funny isn’t it. We need to talk to our children. It is easy to say well they know better now is the time for them to start doing! Sometimes we forget their age. Even if you are the perfect mother (which doesn’t exist) and you can say without a doubt they know what is right and wrong that doesn’t mean you can expect perfection from them. AGE has a lot to do with what we are capable of not just what we know. So go easy on your little ones and be patient.

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