Teaching patience to little ones is an ongoing process that will probably take years. While it’s true that some people are naturally more patient than others, it CAN be taught and practiced.

Taking Turns
No kid wants to be last in line, or the last one to get a cupcake when it’s someone’s birthday, but waiting is a fact of life that isn’t going to go away. It’s important for little ones to know they aren’t the only ones who have to wait. They won’t always be last, but they won’t always be first either.

  1. Brainstorm with your class things to do while you’re waiting your turn: Count as high as you can go, read signs or posters that are near you, think up rhyming words, practice math facts, etc.
  2. Playing games, such as board games are a great lesson in Waiting Your Turn. With a full classroom it’s easier to divide in teams and take turns writing letters or words on the white board, having spelling bees or practicing math facts.
  3. Taking Turns While Talking. With a partner kids take turns talking. Give them a topic, such as “Your Favorite Foods” or “Your Favorite Animals”. The partners take turns saying ONE thing they like.  

Wait and Do Nothing
In school kids have to learn there are times when you have to sit and do nothing. Whether we’re waiting for our turn at lunch, taking a bathroom break or getting our vision checked in the clinic, sometimes we have to sit, wait and do nothing until it’s our turn.

  1. Relate Waiting and Doing Nothing to their lives outside of school. When do they have to wait? At the doctor’s office, in line at the store, playing a game, when mom and dad are busy doing grown up things, etc.
  2. Brainstorm things to do when you have to Wait and Do Nothing. My class came up with ideas such as sing a song in your head, count in your head, make up a story in your head, have a whisper conversation, make shadow puppets, etc.

Patience When Learning or Making Something

  1. Introduce the words Patience and Frustration. 
  2. Take a Break. When kids are frustrated they need to understand that it’s ok to take a break. Model what this looks like.
  3. Practice stopping what they’re doing, taking a deep breath and relaxing, then getting back to work. You can have the kids practice this with an easy activity, such as putting a simple puzzle together, coloring a page or writing. 

Patience Waiting For Something
Birthdays, Christmas, growing, recess…we’re always waiting for something to happen.

  1. Tell them about the things you are waiting for. Kids need to know they aren’t the only ones struggling with things. Let them know how you handle waiting: focusing on something else, counting down the days, etc.
  2. Give them something meaningful to wait for that also gives them ownership. Growing seeds is a great way to do this. Hatching butterflies is another. Check out the Root Garden Viewer, the Sprout and Grow Window, and the Live Butterfly Garden
  3. Cook together. If you Homeschool, baking or cooking is a great lesson in patience with a wonderful reward! Check out the Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook, Pinkalicious Cupcake Cookbook, The Disney Princess Cookbook, and Wookiee Cookies: A Star Wars Cookbook
More Patience Tips and Strategies

  1. Use egg timers or sand timers. Set the timer before a fun activity, such as recess or free time. Kids can practice waiting for two or three minutes and then build from there.
  2. Learn the Patience Song. (video below, lyrics here)
  3. Teaching Patience Article by Scholastic.
  4. Teach Kids to Play “I Spy.
  5. Article: 6 Ways To Teach a Toddler Patience
  6. The Patience Game by Meaningful Mama

Books That Teach Patience
Babushka’s Doll by Patricia Polacco
The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss
Llama, Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
This Monster Cannot Wait by Bethany Barton
The Pigeon Wants a Puppy by Mo Willems
Remy the Rhino Learns Patience by Andy McGuire
Tallulah’s Tutu by Marilyn Singer


Videos That Teach Patience
Check out Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood on PBS. Older episodes are available on Amazon Prime Videos. Several episodes have Daniel Tiger learning patience.

Kids Character Building: Patience

Sesame Street: Zac Efron and Elmo Talk About Patience

Patience Pays: A Lesson in Waiting

Patience Song

Sesame Street: Taking Turns
Sesame Street: Two-Headed Monster Takes Turns

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