Every child is impulsive at first. However, you can s-t-r-e-t-c-h your toddler’s patience in just a few days… if you do it correctly.

Patience-stretching is a quick approach to teach grabby babies patience by asking them to wait a little, tiny amount…then a little bit more…

Then there’s more.

Believe it or not, most parents teach patience to their children in the very opposite approach that works best.

Let’s imagine you’re busy and your 2-year-old tugs on your skirt to get your attention. Most of us say, “Just a second, love,” and go back to what we were doing. The problem is that this usually irritates your youngster even more!

The Patience-Stretching Technique: How to Use It

Important to note: You’ll need something your toddler wants to teach patience-stretching (food, a toy, etc.). Once you’ve got that, simply follow these steps:

First and foremost, almost give her what she wants. Let’s imagine your one-year-old comes up to you and asks for juice. Stop what you’re doing and repeat, “Juice! You want juice!”. You want juice, right? Start to give her the juice…BUT…hold up one finger and exclaim, “Wait! Wait!” Just a second!” you say, as if you’ve just remembered something crucial. Turn away and act as if you’re looking for something.

Then there’s the “payoff.” Turn around after a few seconds and give your child the juice, complimenting her and saying, “Good waiting!” “Thank you for your patience!” Rewarding your child’s patience quickly teaches her that waiting isn’t so hard and that Mommy always follows through on her promises.

Gradually increase the waiting period (5 seconds, then 10…30…60, and so on). Within a week, if you practise this every day, your youngster will be able to wait for a minute or two (or longer). Patience-stretching will gradually improve your child’s self-control.

Toddlers benefit from timers because they help them practise patience. Show your toddler how the timer works at a peaceful period: “See! And then there’s Mr. Dinger’s ding! (make it chime) Then Mommy will be here soon!”

When your 3-year-old starts pestering you for something later, reply, “Sure!” and almost give it to him, but then say, “Wait, wait!” Please wait a moment, sweetie! I need to visit Daddy. I’ll give you the as soon as Mr. Dinger calls!” (You can advise that your child play or read until the timer goes off, but don’t force it.)

Set the timer for 20 seconds at first. When the phone rings, return immediately, give your youngster a pat on the back and a check on the hand (“Hey, good waiting!”), and keep your word. Increase the waiting time to a minute or two at a time. But, every now and then, throw him a curveball by: 1) Set the timer for 10 seconds (he’ll say to himself, “Wow, that minute flew by!”). 2) A double reward (“Hey, you waited so patiently…here are two cookies!”). He’ll say to himself, “Wow, waiting is fun…” Occasionally, I receive much more than I anticipated! Later in the day, tell his teddy bear about his “excellent waiting” at bedtime and compliment him on how patient he was that day.

Is Patience-Stretching Teasing Your Child in Any Way?

There’s a big difference between straining your patience and taunting. When you tease a child by offering him something he wants but not intending to give it to him, you are teasing him. “You want something, but you won’t be able to get it!”

However, by stretching your patience, you will be able to offer your youngster what he wants, although a little later. This is completely understandable to toddlers.

Consider this scenario from an adult’s perspective: You’ve been accepted for a $1,000,000 loan, and the banker is about to hand you the cash when he gets a phone call. So he withdraws the check and apologises, saying, “Sorry, I’ll be right back.”

Are you enraged? Most likely not. Because the banker can alter his mind, you don’t cry, “Where’s my money!” Furthermore, you have every reason to expect that you will receive the check in a matter of seconds. So, how do you go about it? You wait patiently with your hands in your lap. And when you get it, you’re overjoyed and say a genuine “Thank you.”

How I Teach Patience in Less Than 5 Minutes

I enjoy illustrating how simple it is to teach patience-stretching during checkups. First, I warm up the child by playing the boob (for example, letting him repeatedly “slap me five” and yelp in pain).

When he’s having a good time, I say, “Give me five again,” and I extend my hand, but just as he’s about to smack me, I take it away and stick up one finger, shouting, “Wait! Wait!” After that, I turn away and make them wait for a few seconds while pretending to look at something. Then I return, congratulate them (“Excellent waiting!”), and possibly reinforce the compliment by chattering to his mother (“Bobby’s a good waiter!”). Finally, I allowed the boy to “give me five” once more, and I rewarded his patience by bouncing around yelping, “Ouch! Ouch!”

I can usually teach a 1-year-old to wait calmly for 10 seconds in just a few minutes.

Check out The future blogs for more suggestions on how to improve collaboration and reduce tantrums.


  1. How do you explain patience to a child?

    Patience, on the other hand, is described as the ability to bear a delay without becoming irritated or furious. Accepting that a process will take a little longer than you anticipated is part of being patient. Assume your toddler requests a glass of juice to drink as she eats her snack.

  2. How can I improve my child’s patience?

    1. Don’t ask for patience; instead, put it into practise.
    2. Consider patience to be a type of intervention.
    3. Maintain age-appropriate and reasonable expectations.
    4. Spend more time on the relationship than on the outcome.
    5. Restate, rethink, reevaluate, relax, and regroup are all good things to do.

  3. How do you learn patience?

    7 tips for practicing patience
    1. Make an effort to be mindful. Without judging, be in the present moment.
    2. Accept your existing situation and practise accepting it.
    3. Actively cultivate a tolerance for being a little uneasy.
    4. Slow down purposefully when you’re in a hurry.
    5. Be playful.
    6. Let it feel broken. 
    7. Make an effort to be a good listener.

  4. How do I teach my child to wait?

    How to Teach a Kid to Wait
    1. Explain how to wait in a consistent manner, especially when it comes to safety.
    2. Make what comes naturally after waiting, such as play after cleaning up, a reward in and of itself.
    3. Trying to bribe kids to wait is not a good idea since it may teach them to anticipate a reward for any appropriate behaviour.