Kids Activities That Teach Patience

By Flora Richards-Gustafson
To help teach your little one patience, you have to practice patience yourself.
To help teach your little one patience, you have to practice patience yourself.

By the way they sometimes act, it seems like little kids often get a secret memo telling them they should expect everything that they want the minute they want it. Who can blame them? No one likes to wait. The fact is that small children often don’t have the coping skills to wait. Some kids are inherently more patient than others -- but patience is also something that you learn. You can teach patience to your little dictator as his language skills develop.


Gardening is a gold-star activity because it helps teach patience, gives you quality time with your little one and encourages healthy eating. Score! Seeds pop out of the ground when they’re good-n-ready, and take even longer to produce edible fruits and veggies. No tantrum will make nature move faster. Before planting a small garden with your sweet pea, explain how seeds take time to grow (like him) -- and that he’ll have to water and take care of his little plants every day. Your tot will find it thrilling when he sees the first green leaves pop out of the ground. Before he plucks the seedlings out, remind your child that the plants are still growing and that plucking will hurt them.

Board Games

Pull out your tot’s favorite board game for family game time to teach her about taking turns. Before the game begins, tell all the participants that they have to wait their turns before spinning the arrow or rolling the jumbo dice. A player also has to help the next participant know it’s her turn by saying, “I’m done.” Your little one will learn to listen for cues that tell her the wait is finally over.

Active Games

The games “Red Light, Green Light” and “Mother, May I?” help teach patience and let your little one be active at the same time. In the game “Red Light, Green Light,” all the players line up at the starting point. When you say, “Green light,” the participants walk toward the finish line. But, when you say, “Red Light,” the kiddos have to stop in their tracks. If a player keeps walking, she has to go back to the start line. The game “Mother, May I?” is similar. Instead of saying a light color, you tell each player the action that you want her to take to help get her closer to the finish line. For example, you might tell a participant to take two hops or three baby steps. Before the player moves, she has to ask, “Mother, may I?” You then answer, “Yes, you may,” or to really test a young player’s patience, say, “No, you may not.” If a player forgets to ask for permission, she has to go back to the start line.


Kids learn by example, like by watching you. However, they also take cues from characters in their favorite story books. When teaching your little one about patience, find kids’ books that focus specifically on this subject and read them regularly. Then, when your tot starts to act impatiently, ask him about what happened to a story book character in a similar situation. This helps make the lesson immediately relevant to your situation. Because kids are copy-cats, your little guy will hopefully take a cue from the story’s character and act patiently to produce a positive outcome for himself.

About the Author

Flora Richards-Gustafson has been writing professionally since 2003. She creates copy for websites, marketing materials and printed publications. Richards-Gustafson specializes in SEO and writing about small-business strategies, health and beauty, interior design, emergency preparedness and education. Richards-Gustafson received a Bachelor of Arts from George Fox University in 2003 and was recognized by Cambridge's "Who's Who" in 2009 as a leading woman entrepreneur.