Learning to WAIT–Part II

Teaching your child how to “WAIT” is an excellent way to teach the ability of how to endure and cope with the all important: Delay of Gratification.

(A child who can WAIT, will be the teenager who doesn’t need the immediacy of “the answer” so as to lessen anxiety or increase a sense of justified hostility.)

Waiting to eat your dessert AFTER eating your dinner is a beginning for learning about Delay of Gratification.  And then the lessons continue, one after another.

Here is a short list of milestones for learning about the Delay of Gratification:

  • taking turns.  Sharing.  Interactive play that involves not being able to have all the toys you want, but letting others have access to them.
  • learning to accept that not everyone can be first in line, first to get a brownie, first to go on the bus, first to . . .
  • giving to others before you spend on yourself.  Charity can begin early.
  • waiting without complaint.  (This one is often ignored by parents, who have young eyes watching them.  Be aware that children role model what they have watched.)

Now back to our  teenager.  After accomplishing all the above developmental milestones for WAITING, then it can be an expectation that practicing WAITING will not be too taxing upon our teenager.  Except, of course when the any one or more of the following are involved:

  • a car
  • money
  • a sports event
  • a friend
  • music
  • refrigerator/food
  •  clothes
  • telephone/cell phone
  • make-up
  • party

You get the idea.  When it has to do with the teenager’s immediate world, there is an expected expediency of answer by the teenager.


Having stated the above, please remember the Refrigerator Rules, as applied to self and others.  Be respectful.  After listening to your teenager and understanding exactly what is being asked, then give your reply.  Your reply can certainly meet your teenager’s need, if that is something that is prudent and wise and that you can do.  But if YOU need some time to reflect, analyse, make preparations or have something of more critical on your immediate to-do list, then ask your teenager to WAIT.

“I’ll be glad to talk to you this evening about your concern.”

“Give me twenty minutes and I’ll get back to you.”

“As soon as I have all more information, I’ll feel more comfortable in being able to know what to do.”

A very wise teenager will begin to assemble his or her thoughts about whatever he or she is asking of you, the parent, before asking.  Your teenager is learning to “present his or her case;” reduce the WAIT time; and, be respectful of how a parent tries to prevent harm, improve on safety and security  (both physical and emotional.)

In short, your teenager will begin to apply the WAIT process to his or own thinking before barging in and demanding instant answers (gratification) from you.

And isn’t that what you want?  A teenager who thinks before reacting?  A teenager who is resourceful and tries to solve his or her own problems without relying on parents?

Be gentle with your tender teenager, with the expectation that your teenager will be gentle with you.

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