How to teach your children patience

Children live in the moment - but you can teach them to think of the future, too

Lifeskills: How to teach your child patience

Patience may be a virtue, but as every parent knows it’s not one that many children posess. Refusing to wait their turn and throwing a wobbler when they can’t have everything right now are common traits of early childhood. Teaching your child to be patient will help her develop a better understanding of acceptable social conduct and curb bad behaviour.


It’s hard to be patient if you’re not sure what it means, so give your child a model to follow. If you’re waiting for her to put on her coat say, “It’s okay, I can wait. I’m patient.” Your child will follow your example, so no huffing and puffing in the supermrket queue.

Teach your child the concept of delayed gratification by baking a cake with her or charting the growth of a sunflower. Your child will be more patient if she is occupied while she is waiting. Involve her in the process of thinking of activities and she’ll be better able to cope the next time she can’t have what she wants straight away.

It's hard to be patient if you're not sure what it means, so give your child a model to follow.

Just how long is a while?


When asking your child to wait, be specific about timeframes, or tell her what should happen first. For example, “We can go to the park when I’ve finished working on the computer” If your child constantly pushes in and won’t wait her turn, ask her how she’d feel if someone did that to her. The more she is able to empathise with other people, the more sensitive she’ll be towards them.