October 30, 2020 | Clara Buckley
Waiting is hard for everyone. We spend much of our day waiting. It is an unavoidable fact of life. Since it is unavoidable, being able to wait is an important life skill.
Playing on the artificial turf at the park, one child discovered a tree stump. Soon a game of ‘jump over the lava’ emerged. The area quickly became crowded with several children trying to fit on the stump and jump at the same time.
A teacher facilitated the game by setting a few safety rules. Only one child on the stump. Wait on the green until the person before you has jumped. Wait in line for your turn.
The capability to wait is really a method of self-control, or the ability to regulate one’s own behaviors. Young children have not yet learned the ability to self-regulate and are not always in control of their impulses.
Once the rules were set, the game proceeded with each child quickly getting their turn to jump. With only a few reminders, the children happily played until the chimes rang for the end of park time.
As children get older and their brain becomes more developed, they start to gain the cognitive skills that will allow them to master the art of waiting. They develop longer attention spans and improve their memory skills, which paves the way towards self-regulatory skills. It takes instruction, guidance and support to master these skills. While waiting may seem like a period of inactivity, it’s actually an active pursuit. It takes energy and control to wait because we are managing impulses and self-regulating our thoughts, behaviors and actions.
How do you model waiting and taking turns with your child at home?
We recommend turn-taking board games like Candy Land, Count Your Chickens, Hi Ho Cherry-O, and memory matching games.
You could take turns telling stories from your day at the dinner table.
Outdoor games like ball catching or kicking, shooting hoops, and chase are great turn taking games.