What we want may vary, but when we want it is now! Adults and children alike have limited tolerance for delays in getting what we want. Depending on our culture and as we mature, we develop a sense for how long things take. An oil change for our car, fast food take-out and how quickly a check clears is something most adults have a feel for. In different societies the length of time may vary. We learn to manage our impatience when we are confronted with a surprising delay. We have the life experience to know that it will happen. Perhaps we have been a waitress before becoming a Mom, so we sympathize with the over-worked restaurant server that hasn’t brought you the menu yet. You are hungry and on a tight timeframe, but you over-ride your impatience with the knowledge of how restaurants work and your compassion based on past life experience. Children don’t have the ability to over-ride their impatience. In a child’s world it seems intolerable that food is not instantly available when hunger presents itself. Learning how to delay the need for instant gratification is a life skill that has ramifications on the present moment and in future adult years. Buyer’s remorse, you’ve heard of that, right? That feeling of want and the strong desire that everything will improve if I just possess this one thing… That need to not just appreciate that something exists, but that insatiable need to possess it. Not just have it, but have it first and have it all so no one else can have it. Surely, the world will be a better place after this thing comes my way!And then it does, and the world doesn’t change. I have the puppy, but now I have the chores that go with it. I have the shoes, but my outfit actually looks better with my old ones. I have the car, but I’m not fulfilled within. That’s buyer’s remorse. We delight in it right up to the moment that we possess it, then our eyes wander elsewhere for a new and improved item/experience. Now you know how your child feels. And now you know why you must teach your child a different approach. Wanting something, needing to say something, or needing to do something to a child may feel like an imperative to do it now. “Now” implies a timeframe. This is a timing a rhythm issue. Every family has their own timing a rhythm. “Watch me!” means watch me now. Sometimes you can, but sometimes it’s not feasible or safe for you to drop what you’re doing. You are building a driftwood fire; you can’t watch your child throw the Frisbee at that moment during your beach picnic. You are crossing the road; you can’t also watch how adept your child is at licking their ice-cream cone. You must ask your child to wait. Waiting is also a timing and rhythm issue. Practice at home in a calm environment. When your child asks for your immediate attention, hold up one finger and ask them to wait a moment. Do something for a 30-60 second period of time (anything!) and then give them your full attention. If they ask, tell them that they are old enough to begin practicing what big children do and wait. Later you can involve them in the learning process by asking if this is something they can practice waiting one moment. If not attend to them immediately and add a bargain with them that the next time you may surprise them by asking them to wait. We want them to understand that waiting a moment is a skill to learn that is just as important as opening and closing doors, crossing the street safely and learning when to say please and thank-you.Helping them now, may save them the unconscious grief that can happen when you don’t recognize when instant gratification runs rampant in their adult life.

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