It's true: Good things come to those who wait. Kids who learn patience are able to persevere and are more likely to succeed, says Claire Lerner, a child-development specialist with Zero to Three, an advocacy group that focuses on infants and toddlers. Teaching a child the quality of patience can help instill in him a feeling of independence and accomplishment.
Want to help your child along? First remember this: Your baby is watching. If you fly off the handle when you come up against rough traffic or a long line, you'll set a poor example. They're like sponges, taking everything in, says Jody Johnston Pawel, a parent educator and author of The Parent's Toolshop: The Universal Blueprint for Building a Healthy Family (Ambris). Experts call it modeling -- do the right thing and your kid is more likely to follow. Become quickly exasperated when your toddler spills his milk and you'll convey one message; calmly help him clean it up and you'll teach him something else completely.
Attaching words to your little one's emotions also helps foster patience. Toddlers generally can't say a whole lot, but they understand most of what you tell them. So if your 18-month-old throws a fit when he can't put his puzzle together, tell him you understand and acknowledge his frustration. Similarly, if you find yourself about to blow a fuse, explain how you feel instead of lashing out.
Toddlers don't have the same sense of time that we do, which makes it even harder for them to be patient. You can help by marking time in ways other than minutes and hours. For instance, if your child asks for some juice when you're in the middle of sewing, rather than responding with, "I'll get it in five minutes," try saying "I'll get it as soon as I'm finished with this set of pants." This way, he can watch your progress and gauge how soon he'll get his juice.