We often talk about teaching basic “commands” to our toddlers. Teaching your toddler to come to you when called is one that needs to be taught early. To me, this is a safety concern once they are walking/running and independent. We practiced (and still do) all day long to make sure she understood what I meant. I came up with a simple request that made things so much easier for her-“come touch Mama’s leg”. She now knows to come ALL the way over to me and touch me before her response can be called a success!
Teaching your child to wait comes in as a close second as one of the best commands we’ve taught our daughter. She applies this to SOOOO much!
Daniel Tiger says “If you have to go potty, stop and go right away”. In the potty episode, they make sure that their toys/activity have a sign on them so no one else touches it while they are gone in the bathroom. We turned this into having things “wait” for Caroline. If she’s watching a show, playing with a toy, etc… we say that “it will wait for you”. She repeats “wait” and even puts her hand out to stop the item from moving! LOL! Cutest thing ever by the way!
If she has to go potty and we are not near a bathroom. We can tell her that she needs to wait. She
repeats the word and understands that she has to hold it until we find a bathroom or get home. This has prevented a lot of accidents.
When she wants something
If our daughter is making a request, and we need her to wait, she understands this as well. She understands now that Mama is busy and she needs to wait, but that I will help her when I’m done. Or that we are going to wait in line at the grocery store. She has become pretty patient with these scenarios, since she now understands what is going to happen, and that there is an end to the wait time. At her gymnastics class, all she wants to do is the bar. It is the last activity that we do. So, the entire class, she asks for the “bar”. I tell her we have to wait and stay with the class. She says “wait” and calms down for several minutes before asking again. She understands that we’ll get there at some point, just not right now.
This is perhaps my favorite part about her understanding the concept of waiting. I can tell her that we have to share and take turns. I tell her she has to wait for her turn. She calmly waits in line for her chance to play on a toy, or jump on the trampoline at gymnastics class, etc.
I also think this concept has helped her grasp the concept of “do this first”. If you eat two bites of X, you can have a bite of Y. She started understanding this concept right about the same time. Caroline is 20 months old, by the way. She’s been understanding these concepts for about 1.5 months.
This is one of those concepts that I’m not sure how we taught it, other than repetition in natural circumstances. She catches on to hand signals pretty well. I put my hand out to stop her when I say wait, typically. She’s now mimicking this when she says wait. I think having her enrolled in gymnastics (any sort of class setting would work) is helping a lot as well. There are lots of opportunities that she has to practice this concept. She has to wait in line, wait to go to the next station (stay with the class), wait for the instructor to give directions, etc. I think this has been the biggest learning opportunity for this particular concept, and I am really glad that she’s understanding it so well.