Use the Holidays to Teach Patience – 12 Days of Christmas

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It’s normal for children to be impatient during the holidays. But parents can take the opportunity to use the holidays to teach patience.

Welcome to Day 2 of the 12 Days of Christmas Printables! It’s my 2020 thank you for your support!


My four year old started asking the day after Halloween, “Is tomorrow Christmas?” Groan.

While this presented a great opportunity to work on calendar skills during our homeschool preschool, I knew we were good to have a hard time waiting.

So instead of being frustrated, we’re going to leverage this as an opportunity to build patience.

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The Holidays Can Teach Patience

We have to wait for the holidays. Parents don’t have the opportunity to just give in and celebrate Christmas early.

The holidays also teach the joy of anticipation – neuroscience supports that the anticipation brings as much joy as the actual event.

But adding together the excitement of the holidays and a child with little patience can equal real trouble.

So take a proactive approach and plan to use the holidays to actively teach patience.

How Do I Teach My Child Patience?

Here are two specific and practical ways you can use to teach your child patience.

Make time concrete for children

Time is so abstract.  Minutes, hours, days, weeks.  It’s intangible for children.

Children hear, “Just a minute all the time.” Are you really done in one minute?

So start using sand timers to make time more concrete for children.

During the Christmas season, an Advent calendar can make the days more tangible.

Use a visual to teach your child how to wait

The great thing about Advent calendars is they are visual reminders about how many days remain.

When you’re trying to build a new habit with your child, using a picture or a visual can really help. Pictures stay in the brain longer than spoken words.

You can take a photo of your child waiting patiently and print it out. Or grab an image from online (only for personal use – don’t share as this will break copyright).

Then print the photo and present the picture to your child and say, “This reminds us to wait. We’re going to practice how to wait.”

Give your child a visual of the behavior you’re trying to build.

Use a Smiley Chart to Teach Patience

Behavior charts like this smiley chart are only effective in small doses and for a very specific behavior like, “I can wait for one minute.”

Make sure to check out these posts to have a better understanding of the when and how of behavior charts.

Like I mentioned before, waiting during the holidays is EXTRA hard. Practice using this chart before the holiday stress gets to be too crazy.

Either print several copies or get a dry erase sleeve and marker.

You need to fill in the blank for a set amount of time. Start very small (like 20 seconds to 1 minute depending on your child).

As your child builds success, you can increase time on the next chart.

There is no reward built into this chart. You want to focus on how your child feels successful and notice that, “Hey you feel proud because your patience is growing!”

You want to avoid excessive praise or praise tied to your emotions as a parent (ie don’t say “When you wait, I feel happy”). Children are not responsible for the emotions of adults.

Instead, you want your child to build that feeling of internal pride as their self-control grows.

If you like this Smiley Chart, check out the Printable Pack in our shop!

Holiday Smiley Chart

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