Tips for Teaching Waiting

It is hard to remember how difficult it is to wait for something we really want, even as an adult! We often forget that waiting is a behavior all humans have to learn before they are successful. Teaching your child how to wait can be daunting, but here are some tricks and tips to help your child conquer this skill!

Tips for Teaching Waiting:

Be in Control!

In order to teach waiting you first need to have a motivating item in your control. This should be something that your child will want when they see it (and will ask you to have). Be sure that your child cannot get the item. It should not be within their reach and they should not have had access to it recently. For example, if you know that your child is going to ask for the iPad during the day, make sure it is put away. If it is not put away, there is a high likelihood that you will get into a tug-a-war match with your child over the preferred item!

Start Small!

If you are confident that your child can wait 20 seconds, start with waiting for 15 seconds to ensure success! Work on building up your child’s wait time slowly, so they can confidently wait! If your child needs less time, that’s okay. Teaching waiting can start with just a few seconds.

Set your Child Up for Success!

Using visuals can help your child understand exactly how long you’d like them to wait. When you ask your child to wait, count down from 5 with your fingers. For children who can wait a longer period, use a visual timer or a daily check list. It’s also helpful to use concrete times, rather than something that could easily be extended. For example, tell a child to wait for 5 minutes instead of telling them to wait until you are off the phone.

Show your Child How to Wait!

When asking for a child to wait, make sure to give them clear directions and expectations. Do you want them to wait by keeping their hands in their lap or by playing independently? Would you like them to sit down? Can they be engaged in another activity while waiting? Do they need to be quiet? Also, take an opportunity to practice this skill with your child. Model for them what waiting looks like according to your expectations. Making sure they have clarity beforehand will ensure their success. 

Does your child struggle with waiting, other challenging behavior, or have an autism diagnosis? Project Play Therapy’s ABA Team can help! Contact us at 615-832-8955 or for more information.