“Waiting is the hardest part,” sings Tom Petty. True! Waiting can be challenging. It is not easy to wait for something to happen. Or wait for someone.
Although it can be difficult for children to learn how to wait, waiting is not necessarily a bad thing for children. Waiting can help a young child learn patience and self-control. These are important building blocks for developing social emotional competency.
Too much waiting, however, could have negative outcomes for young children. I was talking with a colleague about high/low quality early childhood programs. She said an interesting thing that I’m still thinking about four months later...children who are left waiting too long for routines and events are disadvantaged.
High quality early childhood programs are places where children are engaged, and minimal time is spent during a child’s day waiting. When a child has to wait too long, they are often taken from engaged play or meaningful learning opportunities. A useful question to ask is: How much waiting is too much? For each child it might be different. Issues to consider are: the child’s age, developmental status, environment, and routines.
All children need a safe and healthy environment to grow. Patch Adams M.D., said, “waiting in line is a great opportunity to meet people, daydream, or play.” Some waiting is fine… and can even be valuable for children. However, notice how long kids are having to wait during their day. More play and less waiting is ideal.