The Surprising Secret to Raising a Well-Behaved Kid

Help Kids Practice Patience

No one likes to wait, especially young kids. "Developmentally and neurologically it's difficult because children survive by letting their needs be known immediately," says Michael Osit, EdD, author of Generation Text: Raising Well-Adjusted Kids in the Age of Instant Everything. "That's why it's especially important for parents to start teaching patience in the toddler years. You want your kids to develop tolerance for the feeling of impatience, which is often unpleasant, so they won't misbehave or act impulsively when faced with that feeling in the future.

  • Make them wait. Don't always drop everything as soon as your child asks for something. "Allow your child to feel the unpleasantness of waiting because it's a great change agent," says Dr. Osit. By not giving him the juice immediately, for example, you'll help him get practice in managing his impatience.
  • Tell them what they're feeling. Toddlers aren't able to express their frustration at having to wait for things, but you can help by labeling their emotions and offering praise when they demonstrate patience. If your preschooler has to wait his turn, you might say: "I know it's tough to just stand here. But you're doing a terrific job. You're being patient, and that's great!" "When you validate your child's struggle with something, it's more likely he'll try harder," says Dr. Brooks.
  • Engage in activities that promote patience. Encourage your child to do things that don't offer immediate results, like block building and puzzle solving, or planting a flower seed and watching it grow over time. "Make sure they're not only playing with high-tech gadgets that offer instant press-of-a-button results," suggests Dr. Osit.

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