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Nov 22, 2009

The concept of waiting, a toddler's perspective

Our 22-month old son Daniel started to understand the concept of waiting several months ago. It was a critical word for him to learn, especially at daycare where it's quite common to have to wait for his turn when other kids are playing with his favorite toy, or being cared for by a teacher, etc... In most cases, what Daniel had to wait for what somewhat immediate, and the reward came soon. His understanding of this concept made our life so much easier, and we really started appreciating it and encouraging it.

Over time, Daniel started to wait for bigger, longer-term things. For instance, when my husband had to travel for business for a few days, Daniel understood that he needed to wait and showed great patience during that week.
Most recently, Daniel has been waiting for us to leave for Christmas vacation, several weeks away.

His grandparents came to visit in October, and he really enjoyed reconnecting with them. It was the first time where he was old enough to really establish a strong relationship and to remember it once they were gone. He can remember them so well, that he keeps asking every single day when we will go into the plane to visit Opa and Oma. (answer: around Christmas). Unfortunately, this type of answer doesn't mean anything to a 22-month old, and the conversation usually ends with "Opa and Oma are in their house in Germany, we need to wait until we visit them"... and a deep sigh from Daniel.

Daniel and Opa discovering a big tree in October

How can Daniel understand that the wait this time will take 2 months? Compared with other things he has been waiting for, this is an awfully long period of time to wait. Is he going to be discouraged before the time comes? Is he going to give us and stop believing us? Is he going to continue to feel sad when thinking of Oma and Opa until we take off for Germany in another month?

We bought an adventscalendar as an attempt to help Daniel understand the process of counting the days. He is now mentioning Opa and Oma when seeing the calendar. But not sure he understands the specific purpose.

While it's great to see him becoming more patient, I feel bad that we are asking him to be so patient for something he is to excited about, yet without a good way to explain it to him.

Wondering if other parents have had a similar experience and how they addressed it?

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