Too often, kids expect their actions to bring about immediate results, which is not possible all the time.
Thus, it is of utmost importance that parents teach kids to resist the temptation and appreciate delayed gratification.
1. Watch time flies by with tangible objects.
Sometimes, kids are uncomfortable with delayed gratification, mainly because they are unaware of how long they have to wait.
Instead of letting kids get frustrated with anticipation, show them that waiting is part of the fun by ticking off time together.
- Print a large calendar. Use a colorful sticker and put it on the upcoming event’s date, whether it is a family get-together, a trip to Disneyland, or even the day you promise you would buy them new clothes.
As a day passes by, ask your kids to use a marker and cross it off. Not only is this a visual interpretation of how time is moving, but it also makes a simple yet delightful game.
- Use countdown apps. There are many mobile apps designed to be kid-friendly – like Visual Countdown Timer – which can help kids keep track of time in an exciting way.
2. Communicate with kids.
Another reason why kids usually struggle with delayed gratification is that they are not fully updated on a situation.
If kids are misinformed, they are more likely to develop unrealistic goals, which leads to frustration and anger when the said goals are not fulfilled right away.
As parents, you can counter this problem by having in-depth talks with kids, especially when they are eager about certain things.
Whether it is a school project or a DIY plan, clear communication will help kids understand everything involved, and how complicated things might get.
Thus, it lowers their expectations and gives them better insights into how long they will receive their due rewards.
3. Open a savings account for kids.
Nothing demonstrates delayed gratification better than a savings account.
Your kids say they want to have a new toy?
Easy enough, let’s get them to set up a savings account, and the easiest way is to buy a piggy bank!
Of course, parents can help by offering to pay the most part, but it is important for kids to actually strive towards their goal.
You can ask them to contribute their daily allowance, their lucky money, or their birthday money to the account.
Even better, you can grant kids a few notes when they earn a good grade, or when they finish their share of housework.
Gradually, the savings account will be enough for kids to purchase whatever they want, and it definitely feels better than letting parents pay for it all!
4. Teach kids about distractions.
When filled up with eagerness and anticipation, using distractions can help kids to take their minds off things, and lessen the feeling of impatience.
There are multiple ways in which your kids can practice healthy distractions.
- Exercise. For example, if your kids are frustrated due to prolonged waiting at the bus stop. Ask them to stand up and move around.
Feel free to let them dance, go on-the-spot jogging, or even make some hip hop moves.
This is something that will help your kids feel better, especially when confronted with delayed gratification.
- Counting backward. In case your kids are waiting for the oven to complete a batch of cookies, let them do some backward counting.
You can estimate how much time left is needed – like 200 seconds – and count with your kids until everything is done.
For kids under 3 years old, counting also helps them reinforce their maths skills.
- Clean up. If your kids are expecting a friend to come over, ask them to do some cleaning instead of sitting and whining about how long it is gonna take for their buddy to arrive.
Depending on the situation, you can change cleaning to collecting the toys, drawing a few pictures, helping with food preparation, etc.
5. Teach kids to come up with a plan.
A plan is like a torch, which gives kids a better understanding of what is going to happen.
Furthermore, a well-developed plan usually helps kids realize what needed to be done, and how long it will take for the plan to come through.
You can guide kids through a plan with these questions.
- “What exactly do you want?” – This is the first step for you to determine whether your kids’ goal is achievable or not.
For example, getting a new book with kids’ saving is within their reach, but being able to play the piano after three lessons, is not.
It is your job to make kids come to terms with a specific, yet feasible goal.
- “Is there any way in which you can do to help you achieve your goal?” – Even if your kids’ approaches are wrong, do not scold them.
Instead, be non-judgemental and point out how your kids can fix it.
- “If things do not work out, have you had a backup plan?” – If your kids have not had one, suggest that they come up with plan B and C and so on.
If they have already got it, see if it is attainable and give some constructive comments if possible.
- “If things start to get difficult, will you give up?” -This question is a great way to measure your kids’ attitude towards their objective.
- “When are you going to kick off your plan?”
- “Will you need any help?” – Remind kids that all of us need help at some points, and you are always more than willing to give a helping hand.
- “Are you ready to commit yourself to your plan?” – Your kids’ commitment to their plan also demonstrates whether they are ready for delayed gratification.
- “Do you think you can wait until your plan is successful?” – If the kids sound doubtful, give them some hopes to lean on.
Kids today are raised in a society where all of their needs are met instantly.
This can make teaching your child to wait for a final result a real challenge.
However, as there are many benefits associated with delayed gratification, you should try your best and show kids what they could earn in the long run, simply by waiting.