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5 Ideas for When You Have to Wait

by Tania Cowling | May 2nd, 2023 | Behavior, Infants/Toddlers

toddler playing (400x400)Whether it’s the doctor’s office, a restaurant, the bank, or long lines at the grocery store, there are times of waiting and this is probably very difficult for your young child. There’s a good reason why quiet activities without a lot of movement only last a short while. It’s because the nervous system in a child’s body is not completely developed, making it impossible for little ones to remain still for more than 10 minutes, maybe 20 minutes at the most. Experts recommend exercises and activities that stimulate breathing and circulation to be done in small spaces. Here are a few ideas to try.

1. Coordination exercises work well in small spaces. Have your toddler play to rhymes such as Patty Cake or This Little Piggy by putting their hands on body parts as you name them. Then show them how to flex their fingers first slowly, then faster and faster. End by racing their fingers from hips to knees and back again faster and faster.

2. Again, get physical with small games. Play follow-the-leader in a large waiting area like the doctor’s office or even at the airport while waiting for your flight. Ask your child to count with you to see how many steps it takes to cross the room. Walking away the waiting time helps young children cope.

3. Sometimes active games are just not suitable, so thinking games should take over. While standing in line at the grocery store, have your child name all the items in the cart that are his/her favorite. Or, how about working on your colors by classifying the items that are blue or yellow? When you are sitting in a waiting room, ask your toddler to look at the people’s shoes. How many are wearing sneakers or how many people are wearing sandals?

4. Older toddlers may enjoy the I Spy game. Say something like “I spy something red? Or, to get even more technical, you can say you spy people wearing something red that keeps them warm (a sweater or coat).

5. Keep a bag packed with items your baby or toddler will find interesting. Use items such as keys, old cell phone, old wallet with paper money and even fake plastic cards that will fit in the slots like credit cards. Kids like to dig into mommy’ s purse so this game is very similar, but in a special bag just for baby. When you know you are going somewhere you have to do some waiting bring this bag along.

These are only five ideas, but with a little imagination you can make delays during waiting a little easier on both you and your child.

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