It’s normal for children to be impatient during the holidays. But parents can take the opportunity to teach patience at Christmas.
Welcome to Day 2 of the 12 Days of Free Christmas Printable Activities. This is my gift to email subscribers for their support to this mom-run, small business.
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, I knew he was good to have a hard time waiting.
So instead of being frustrated, we are going to leverage this as an opportunity to build patience. You can also use the free printable to teach patience at Christmas.
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Teach Patience at Christmas
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, and this is a good thing! Neuroscience supports that the anticipation brings as much joy as the actual event.
But adding together the excitement of the holidays and a child who developmentally has very 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 three specific and practical ways you can use to teach your child patience during the Christmas season.
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.
Recently, we also invested in the Time Timer and it has made a huge difference for my neurodivergent children. It quantifies the time with a big red section that slowly disappears as the minutes pass.
It is much easier to see across a room or from the couch as we agree to how many more minutes until we turn off the TV.
Use Advent Calendars to Countdown the Days
During the Christmas season, an Advent calendar can make the days more tangible. Each day, you complete an activity that shows one more day has passed until Christmas.
In our family, we really enjoy the Christmas Book Advent Calendar. It is a great way to sneak in more reading while counting down the days until Christmas.
You can also grab the free Santa Beard Countdown. Watching Santa’s beard grow longer each day makes waiting for Christmas more fun.
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.
Christmas Smiley Chart to Teach Patience
You can use a Christmas smiley chart to teach patience at Christmas. 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.
You can grab this behavior chart by becoming an email subscriber. You can unsubscribe at anytime, but with all the tips and deals, you’ll want to stick around!
Using a Chart to Teach Patience
Here’s how to use the Christmas behavior chart printable:
- Print several copies and place them on a clipboard.
- Or get a dry erase sleeve and marker.
- Fill in the blank for a set amount of time.
- Each time your child waits patiently, draw in a smile.
- Think of times you can ask your child to wait for the set amount of time.
- Try to help your child get all their smiles within the first day.
Building Success with Waiting for Christmas
You want your child to build success with waiting patiently during the Christmas season. You need to build positive momentum. You do this by:
- Starting very small
- Creating opportunities to practice
- Avoiding rewards
Start very small
When teaching your child to be more patient at Christmas, start with a very small amount of time.
This might mean 20 seconds to 1 minute depending on your child. As your child builds success, you can increase time on the next chart.
Create opportunities to practice
At the beginning, you’re going to need to come up with opportunities for your child. The more chances they have to be successful in a short amount of time, the better.
So try to use them for the first time when you’re at home in a situation you can control. Brainstorm a list of opportunities where you can ask your chidl to wait like:
- Playing with a toy that’s put up on a shelf
- Asking for some water
- Waiting for a snack
- Requesting to watch a favorite TV show
- Wanting to tell you something
Each of these times, you’ll say, “Please wait.” Then thank your child and fill in the smiley face if your child was successful.
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. Rewards can kill intrinsic motivation.
If you like this Smiley Chart, check out the Printable Pack in our shop!
Behavior Chart for Christmas
Waiting is hard for children. It’s even harder at Christmas time due to their excitement.
But you can leverage this season as an opportunity to build important skills for your child. Grab this printable below.
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