How to Teach Toddlers Patience

Hey everyone! Gingi here! It has been aaaaages since I’ve accepted guest posts for my blog, but I have recently had the great pleasure of stumbling upon and blog stalking the lovely Cher at The Sticky Apronand I am thrilled to have her on Domestic Geek Girl as a guest blogger! Cher is a fellow Navy wife and Christian mommy, and her posts are always fantastic and informative. If you like what you read, be sure to stop by her blog and say hi! (Check out her full bio and blog info at the bottom of the post.)

How to Teach Toddlers Patience

Teach toddlers patience? Are you insane! Try out this step by step guide and see the results for yourself.

Define Patience

You need to have one clear definition of what patience is.


It is important to stick with one definition of patience because you can easily confuse a child by changing your words. What ever definition you choose, make sure that it is two sentences or less. We adopted Joyce Meyers definition and our three year old son can be told to wait with patience and he will wait for hours. Any one can wait, but waiting with a good attitude is being willing to wait.

How to Talk About Patience

When you are asking your toddler to wait, tell them the definition of what patient is. If they start to whine, tell them what they are doing is wrong and tell them what behavior you want them to display instead.
For example:
“Mommy I would like milk please.”
“I will get you milk in a moment, please wait patiently.” It is amazing how children react differently when you make the distinction of waiting and waiting patiently.
“Mommy I want milk now! WHINE WHINE WHINE.”
“Right now you are whining and asking me more than once. You asked me and I answered. You need to wait patiently.”
Then immediately give them the definition you have chosen. If they continue to whine than have a consequence. I use timeout, a minute for each year of age on a timer.

Be Consistent (Even When You’re Busy)

How consistent? If you want the harvest you have to tend the garden.  If you’re busy, make time. Stop what you are doing and make eye contact. There is a reason why there are so many impatient people in this world and that is because it takes patience to teach patience. Also if you are not consistent then there is a very small chance that patience will become a core character trait.

Follow Through

Once you have asked your toddler to wait, remember to follow through. If they think that what ever they have asked for won’t come and you asking them to wait is your way of saying no, then when you ask them to be patient they will throw a tantrum. A great tip for making sure you remember is to set a time limit for yourself to deliver on your promise. If my son asks for a cup of milk I won’t make him wait more than five minutes. If my children want to go outside to play I won’t make them wait more than twenty minutes. This is all at your discretion, however following through is just as important as consistency.
DON’T – Say “I won’t forget”.
DO – Say “I will remember”.
WHY – If you say forget when you are trying to remember something guess what happens. You forget. Reprogram your brain.

Give Them A Time Frame

A good rule of thumb is if it is more than five minutes, warn your toddler. Tell them how long it will be before you can deliver. This will help your child not feel anxious. If you don’t specify that it will take time they won’t be able to help but continue to ask and ask and ask. If you know it will be longer than fifteen minutes, set a timer for them to listen for. When you set a timer they will feel relaxed knowing that they will get what they want when they hear the bell so they forget about it and let it go. This is also great to do with toddlers because it helps them get a feel for time and how to judge it. That way when you are in public or on a car ride when you say it will be about thirty minutes they will have an idea of what it feels like for that amount of time to pass.

Be Realistic

If your child is asking for a need like water, food, or to go to the restroom, then be realistic about how long they can wait. If you ask your toddler to wait for a need for too long than you will destroy your efforts for teaching patience. If your child is asked to wait for something they need and it isn’t delivered in time, they will begin to resent patience and associate the word with negative feelings. This is what causes children to automatically get upset when they are told to wait.

Give Them an Activity

Idle hands are prone to mischief. If you ever want your child to misbehave, throw a tantrum, or become outrageously annoying, then ask them to wait with nothing to do. Set your child up for success. Click here for a few ideas on how to help keep toddlers entertained.

Be Thankful

Children love praise! Say thank you when you ask them to wait and they don’t get upset. Also, say thank you when you deliver on your promise and they have waited with a good attitude. If it is possible, I always try to over deliver. Sometimes that means a surprise cookie or extra play time. As if it couldn’t get any better, being thankful not only makes your child feel confident but it teaches them how to be thankful. Let your toddler know how much God loves patience and that they are pleasing Him when they obey you.

Set a Good Example

How you react to how your child acts will say more than your words. We have all been brainwashed into believing actions speak louder than words, but do we believe it? Even if you get angry or frustrated make sure that you are setting a good example of patience.  If you feel overwhelmed, then allow yourself to take a timeout. It is also a powerful example when you let your child know that you are upset but you’re choosing to act and be calm. It is healthy to relate to your child and let them know you feel what they feel, but you choose to act on what ever standards you have set.

Don’t Set Your Expectations Too High

Toddlers are toddlers, we can’t expect them to be anything else. Right now you are planting seeds. Remember there is a season for everything. The toddler years is the season to plant; the harvest will come later. However, if you want to ever have a harvest, you must tend the garden. It’s a great metaphor too, because you hear people say that talking to plants helps them grow. That’s kind of funny isn’t it? We need to talk to our children. It is easy to say, well they know better now is the time for them to start doing! Sometimes we forget their age. Even if you are the perfect mother (which doesn’t exist) and you can say without a doubt they know what is right and wrong, that doesn’t mean you can expect perfection from them. AGE has a lot to do with what we are capable of, not just what we know. So go easy on your little ones and be patient.
guest3The Sticky Apron is a  blog all about bible based homemaking, motherhood, and navy wife life. Through articles, tips, tricks, and how to’s I share my experiences hoping to encourage others. “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Hebrews 3:13  My goal is to be useful so please feel free to contact me, leave comments or questions.
I am 22 years old and my passion is bible based homemaking because it is how I serve the people I love. I am a stay at home mom of two adorable (not being bias, maybe a little) kids. My son Gage is terribly wonderfully three and my daughter Payton is a year old. We are a family of six though when you add my mom and my husbands father all living under one roof. Crazy is the new normal. My husband and I got married Valentines day of 2011 it might seem corny but we are hopeless romantics. Our journey really got interesting though when my husband joined the Navy. We were moved from one side of the US all the way to the other side but that didn’t bother me, I would follow my husband anywhere.
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Gingi Freeman
Gingi Freeman
Gingi is a photographer, cosplayer, amateur chef, crazy cat lady, anime otaku, bookworm, generic geek, world traveler, conservative Christian, homeschooler, devoted military wife and stay at home new mother of two little girls.

Gingi blogs about anything and everything that is relevant to being a supermom, stay at home wife, homeschooler and geek girl! You can contact her at or via the contact form on her website at

Gingi Freeman

Gingi is a photographer, cosplayer, amateur chef, crazy cat lady, anime otaku, bookworm, generic geek, world traveler, conservative Christian, homeschooler, devoted military wife and stay at home new mother of two little girls. Gingi blogs about anything and everything that is relevant to being a supermom, stay at home wife, homeschooler and geek girl! You can contact her at or via the contact form on her website at

31 thoughts on “How to Teach Toddlers Patience

  • 9 February, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    Great tips! I wish I’d read them a bit sooner because we are all impatient here, but I’m consoled by the fact that it’s never too late to start changing things for the better.

  • 9 February, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    Totally on board with this post ladies! I read a lot of John Rosemond and he introduced me to the whining room. When my girls whine, they have to go to the whining room until they stop. And they HATE the whining room. The milk example is so familiar to me that it’s scary! I just find that nothing drives me bonkers quicker than whining (and American children I hate to say it are total whiners and in order to avoid CPS from coming to my house, I know I need to discipline my kiddos!) Will have to check out Cher’s blog, thanks for inviting us!! Love Bible based advice and tips from one mom to another =)

    • 9 February, 2015 at 2:34 pm

      I haven’t read any John Rosemond and I have never heard of the whining room.. now I’m intrigued!

      And Laura, you should totally network with Cher’s blog, make sure you stop by for sure and connect! You two will love each other!

  • 9 February, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    “There is a reason why there are so many impatient people in this world and that is because it takes patience to teach patience.” Exactly! It goes back to the old adage, “do as I say, not as I do.” Children really learn from example, and you can’t teach patirence, or anything good for that matter, unless you practice what you preach. I tried to raise my now adult children with the same attitude, and thankfully, they’ve grown into pretty awesome adults. We had some bumps along the way, but when you plant positive roots, they usually go back to them again.

    • 9 February, 2015 at 2:36 pm

      I totally agree children learn by example. Now that my daughter is approaching the toddler stage, and is increasingly copying my actions, I am starting to realize this fact more and more vividly! Parenting suddenly seems like such a HUGE responsibility!!!!

      • 9 February, 2015 at 2:52 pm

        That it is Gingi! From what I can see from your blog, you’ve got it under control. 🙂 One thing I learned when my kids were little is to apologize. There will be times when you lose it, we’re just human, when you do, say you’re sorry. I believe that when a child receives an apology from an adult it makes that child more likely to own their own bad behavior and learn from their mistakes, rather than deny that they did anything wrong. Just my 2 cents. 🙂

        • 9 February, 2015 at 3:40 pm

          As of right now, I feel like I have this “mom thing” under control, but I won’t lie – the first time my daughter threw a fit in a grocery store I had a mini crises of faith in my skills as a mother, lol! You mean these creatures get ATTITUDES?! And with another one on the way, I worry how I will handle two at a time.. or three! I’m a work in progress, and I know I will make mistakes.. but I will never stop trying to be the best mommy I can be! But still… when it comes to issues of patience.. it’s rather daunting!! lol!

          • 9 February, 2015 at 3:53 pm

            Yep, I remember when Alex had her first public tantrum. She was 18 months old, we were in a shopping mall, and she did not want to put her snow suit on to go out to the car. After what seemed like a lifetime of her lying on the floor screaming and kicking the suit away, I picked her up and took her out in the cold without it. I felt like a failure. It gets better, I promise. 🙂

          • 9 February, 2015 at 4:42 pm

            With Tessa’s first public tantrum, luckily I was surrounded by seasoned mothers, who actually laughed and gave me some very encouraging words. The cashier, the girl behind me, and a mom in the aisle of the store, all stopped and told me to be patient and calm and I was doing a great job. I said, “I thought my mothering was supposed to always be this easy! The first year was a breeze!” And they all started laughing and good naturedly teasing me.. it seriously made me feel so much better having a support network of complete strangers who “got it” and didn’t act upset or judgmental at the out of control baby in my arms, haha!

  • 9 February, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    Great post Cher!! I especially plan to employ the timer with my little girl, when she gets a bit older. As a kid, I HATED when my parents would say five minutes, and I would watch the clock and after 10, 15 or 20 minutes, the promised action wasn’t delivered. I remember getting older and calling my parents out on this, haha! Now as an adult I realize how hard it is to lose track of time, when to a child, every minute is an eternity. But a timer helps to keep BOTH parties accountable. Great post! <3

  • 9 February, 2015 at 3:15 pm

    Well those advices could help an adult as well)))
    It’s amazing how many grown ups act this way too)) I was raised in a family that always explained why you need to be patient and how I should act instead of whining and now that I grew up I have to admit I would do the same with my kids!
    Very useful post!

  • 9 February, 2015 at 4:49 pm

    Great article! I should teach myself some more patience too haha 😛 so perhaps not just for toddlers 😛

  • 9 February, 2015 at 5:16 pm

    Patience is such a wonderful characteristic to possess, and it can be difficult to achieve. Hence, anything we can do to help children strengthen the patience muscle is worth it. I agree about giving them something to do with their hands. It’s tough to just stand and stare!

  • 9 February, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    And, have lots of patience yourself:)
    Great tips!! I’m happy to say that both of my boys are now teens – love having teenagers!!!

  • 9 February, 2015 at 7:24 pm

    Patience is tough to teach at any age, especially to toddlers! I think your list can apply even to adults who have a hard time with patience 🙂

  • 9 February, 2015 at 9:05 pm

    Really interesting to read!!! Luckily my son became more patient that I am, but I’ll keep it in mind for eventual grandchildren :)))


  • 10 February, 2015 at 12:25 am

    Oh fun, Gingi! You know I love having guests sometimes.
    Ok I have a toddler on my lap right now and he’s totally annoying me and whining and playing on the keyboard! I love your tips because the consistency and time frames are key with him.

    • 10 February, 2015 at 1:13 am

      It’s been a VERY long time since I’ve had guest bloggers! But I’d like to have more, the networking aspect is so fun! And I need to start writing for others too!

  • 10 February, 2015 at 1:17 am

    These are fabulous tips! A few of them I use (i.e. positive reminders “I will remember that later” and some new ones I should implement. I have a 3 year old who could benefit from Mommy using some of these!

    Thanks for sharing (and I’m pleased to meet you Cher!

    Wishing both of you a lovely week!

  • 10 February, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    I know I need to work on this a bit more. Sometimes I’m not as consistent as I want to be. I’m not sure Baby Boy has gotten much of any of this, but I suppose only time will tell if he’s become more patient. 🙂

  • 11 February, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    In order to teach someone to be patient, you must be twice as patient as they are.. am I right? 😉 Plus, this cannot be achieved in just a day I’m guessing.. or overnight. I get why it’s important to follow through and be consistent. 😀

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