My 6 year old daughter could use some help developing her ability to wait or be patient. Understanding that most of us, and especially children, could use help with that, she does need some help beyond her peers. In fact, it's enough so that her first grade teacher asked to have a meeting about it.

She is almost always great and wants to please, so I just want to help her let that part shine through more often. She often struggles with raising her hand and waiting her turn in class. At home, she struggles to wait for her turn to talk, resulting in interrupting others (usually my wife and myself).

Obviously, all of this gets magnified when she's tired, so we will often have a sense that it could be a rough day when she's heading off to school (though she's working at it and getting a bit better).

Interestingly, she is pretty self aware of this. Her teachers had picked a couple of things with her for her to work on, and she is responsible each day for giving herself a grade. Currently, her tasks are raising her hands and being respectful. Each day she talks with the teachers about her rating for those things, and they have commented that she pretty much always picks the same grade they would have given her.

I take from all this, that she is generally a really good kid who wants to be a good one, but who doesn't posses the skills to handle herself when things start going bad. I think patience and being willing and able to wait her turn are the main things that will help her (as do her teachers).

We do our best to recognize when she does well and comment on it to her. When she interrupts we point out that she has to wait her turn. We had also started letting her earn a sticker for each "good" day at school, and had been talking with her about letting her buy things she wants with (like having a "downstairs campout") after she gets enough stickers. (Her teachers didn't seem to like that idea as much, seemingly thinking it separates the reward too far from the act--though I think I disagree with that since she loves getting the sticker itself each day as well.)

Are there other things we can do to help her develop those skills? Are there good games we could play or activities that will help? Aside from attempting to be patient and show ourselves to be waiting for things we want to model the desired behavior, are there other things my wife and I can do to help her?

2 Answers 2


For our daughter, we started by having her be aware of others in conversation. We did this by requiring that if mom or dad are talking and she wants to talk to us, she has to place her hand on our forearm and wait for acknowledgement. The reason is that it requires her to approach us, and it requires her to interact with us silently, and finally it allows us to show her that we'll respect her and not leave her for very long before we inturrupt our conversation momentarily for her.

The other thing we do is when the answer to a request of hers is going to be a yes, if it isn't urgent, we say "yes, but can you wait a moment and I'll get it for you". Of course we forget sometimes and she comes back wondering where we are with her "yes"... but it also sets up a framework of respect of our time relative to her needs. It also gives her a chance to learn her own time-relative needs and could really just say "no, I really need it now, if you could, please".

Finally, another thing we do, and see our kids reflect it, is take time to share with each other in receiving "here, can you bring this to your brother while I get yours"... and it helps develop relativity between all members of the environment. Our little guy won't walk away with his own sippy cup already in hand until his sister's is ready and he can take it to her.

Lack of patience is a symptom, not an issue. It is almost always due to passion and excitement from children. The passion and excitement shouldn't ever be thwarted. The real issue to watch out for is lack of respect of others.

It all depends on the kids emotional disposition and personality, but if respect is lacking, other means won't bare fruit.


I've often wondered if the Stanford Marshmallow Test might be a teachable exercise in self-control: make it a game, and see if she can learn to resist the temptation of the first marshmallow (or whatever treat) in anticipation of a second.

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