My nanny family is expecting a baby. Well, we are really past expecting. We were expecting him a week ago. Now we have moved on to a sort of frustrated "get here already" kind of mentality.
Waiting is hard. It is frustrating for us all. When we have to wait in line for a ride at an amusement park or if we have to wait for our yummy food to arrive we might start out excited but if the wait seems long to us that quickly moves on to impatience.
Imagine how it must feel for our kiddos. Waiting for a kid is probably the hardest thing ever! It might even be worse than someone saying NO. At least with a no answer you can try to get around it and then move on. For little ones waiting for something there is no end in sight.
My 3 year old is waiting for her little brother. We have done the work. We know what our roles are to be, where he will sleep, how things will change and how fun (and tiring) it will all be. As we were talking about the waiting today, and sharing how we were both frustrated, I was reminded by her that it will be worth it. Especially when we get to help him open presents at Christmas.
Helping a kid to wait is not easy, but it is important to practice waiting. It is part of life. Finding some ways that help a child delay gratification can be tough, but a necessary building block for other important concepts like self regulation.
It helps younger kids to be concrete. Make a jar countdown or mark days on a calendar. At restaurants, you can point out the time and keep track. Show them how hard it is for you, but that you CAN wait and it is usually worth it. Set timers. Put a treat in sight and then stretch the time until they can have it.
Most of us know a million waiting games. But did you ever explain to a kid WHY we play them. That in itself is a teachable moment. We distract ourselves to get thru the time.
We are still waiting (I was hoping I would get the call as I wrote this post) for baby boy. And like my little one said to me, "he will come when he is ready."