Being patient and having to wait can be exhausting for an adult, let alone for a child. Thankfully there are methods that can help your child develop self control without getting bored, and more importantly, without having to resort to any gadgets. Here are a few simple tricks you should try:
1. Visualize time
Around the age of nine, children begin to develop abstract thinking. Before that, their minds work in a more concrete way and this is what makes it difficult for them to distinguish the difference between 15 minutes and 45 minutes. For this reason, it is useful to visualize time whenever possible. So, it would be wrong to say "we're leaving in an hour, or you have 10 minutes to put your toys away." Instead, help them understand in a more concrete way, for instance, "dad will be home from work when the sun goes down behind that roof over there." You can also give them a comparison, particularly when they need to wait. Rephrase your sentence to "This will be as quick as brushing your teeth".
2. Teach your kids games they can play alone
Playing alone is important for children as this will enable them to entertain themselves anywhere and at anytime. Their imaginations have no boundaries and these simple games do not require any preparation or special objects. Jigsaw puzzles, treasure hunts, making up fairy tales and role-playing are the right kind of games. Ensure that they stay away from things like smartphone or tablet games as these hinder the development of imagination and creativeness.
3. A lifesaving game for public places
Teaching kids to be patient may be a daunting task. So whether they have to wait till the bus arrives, or at a queue, try this technique to divert their attention. In the game, two participants make a wish. They then agree on a feature they must both look for in the surrounding objects (color, shape, first letter of a name). Take 'green things' as an example. Then, they start shouting out what they see, for instance 'car! tree! bag!' and so on. The one who counts 20 first, or any other number, wins the game and has the right to demand the fulfillment of his or her wish. This game is very addictive and will allow you to adjust the rules as your child gets older. As a parent you do not actively need to participate as children tend to be the ones counting for two.
4. A simple way to not interrupt adults
Something all parents encounter at one point or another. When a child wants to say something while their parent is talking to someone else, they should just put their hand on their parent's arm or shoulder. If the parent touches their hand in response it means that the child has been 'heard' and will be attended to as soon as possible. This technique has been shown to work as by maintaining contact, the adult makes it clear that the child is being treated with respect, and is not being ignored.
5. Waiting for big events (birthday, Christmas)
Even if children have learned to have fun on their own or not to interrupt adults it is still difficult for them to wait for important dates such as their birthday, vacations, Christmas and so on. Preparing an Advent calendar however, can make the waiting seem shorter. Each day before the upcoming date is marked by postcards with wishes or creative tasks, little sacks with presents, or packets of candy. It can be enjoyed by children of all ages too!