Waiting is hard! How to make wait times fun

Waiting can be one of the hardest things that we have to do. It can be challenging as an adult, so think about how hard it must be for your toddler or preschooler that hasn’t fully learned how to regulate their emotions yet. They’re tired, excited, bored, hyper, and just plain done with being in line. Maybe they are overwhelmed by sensory input from the lights and sounds or an uncomfortable seam in their clothing. This can make the seemingly simple task of waiting feel nearly impossible to your little one, which leads to unpleasant behavior and sometimes tricky situations for parents to deal with. (Do I ditch my almost full cart and carry my screaming child out of the store or keep shopping? We’ve all been there.)

Here are some simple games that you can play with your little one during those tricky situations where they have to wait. Remember, the concept of waiting is a learned skill, and they need your support to become better at it. Playing these games to help time fly is a great way to support their growth and make waiting fun.

Eye Spy:
The classic game of Eye Spy is a favorite for just about any age. You can change it up over time if you feel one way of playing is getting old, too.
Eye spy…
– A color
– Something that starts with the letter…
– Something that rhymes with…

Guess My Number:
A simple game that can be adapted to many ages. Depending on your child’s current level of development, you can play by …
– Having them guess a number from 1-10, or 1-100 as they get older.
– They can ask for yes or no clues, aka be a number detective (i.e.: Is your number larger than 7?)
– Introduce equations – i.e. I’m thinking of a number that’s 1+2.

Guess My Animal:
Kids love animals. For this game, you think of an animal and give clues to help them guess what that animal is. For example: My animal is big. They get one guess to what the animal is, then you give them another clue: My animal has stripes. They have one more guess, and you keep going until they guess what your animal is. When they guess correctly, it’s their turn to think up an animal and give you clues for it.

Another trick, for the times that you can’t play the games with them while they wait (or need a break from the games) is to have small books, fidgets and toys with you. These should be special items that only come out when you’re waiting so that they hold the child’s attention longer.

Keep these tips and tricks tucked away to use on your next outing. Happy waiting!

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