“Just a minute… please be patient!”

“Just a minute buddy, I need to______. Please be patient!”

Sound familiar? It all started around the time that my first son was approaching 18 months and I was approaching 9 months of pregnancy… makes for an interesting combination doesn’t it! :) I found myself asking him to be patient for a minute or two while I ran to get something, screwed the lid on his sippy cup, cleaned up a mess, battled with a screwdriver trying to replace batteries in a much loved toy, or went to the bathroom (ladies remember that at 9 months pregnant!) For some reason my son’s idea of “being patient” was never what I had in mind.

Also around that time, I was working with my first grade students (all of whom were refugees, and in their first year of learning English) when in the matter of 15 minutes I had a two students throw up, one with a bloody nose, and someone pee their pants!  After it was all over, and I was giving them “the speech” about being patient when problems arise, one my students asked me, “Teacher, what does patient mean, what does it look like?”

At that moment, I realized how abstract “patient” was to kids; let alone an 18 month old toddler. From then on I made clear what being “patient” looked like for my students and for my son. For my students, patient looked like this: hands together, eyes were on the teacher, feet or legs were still, and mouth was quiet. For my son, patient looks like this: mouth is quiet, and hands are together.


His “patient” look! Please note that I did have to take this picture because I could not find any other pictures of him being patient! Haha!

Now, when we are at home and the phone rings right as he is waiting for me to get a drink for him or pull out a puzzle and I ask him to be patient for a minute, he knows what I am asking! (He even let dad know what patient means. One day, my husband was picking him up from Sunday school and he was going to walk with him, holding his hand. Our son decided that he didn’t want to walk that way, so he looked up at dad and said, ‘No dad, I want to be patient!’ as he folded his hands and continued walking without holding his dad’s hand.)

Our definitions of patient are the now same! He’s still a toddler, and I’m still a mom who runs out of patience myself; but realizing concepts that are abstract to toddlers and kids can really improve your communication!

Here are a few other words that I found that needed “pictures” in our family:






(*Yes, some of those are verbs but trust me, as you know, parts of speech mean nothing to a toddler! Even if you’re parents are BOTH English teachers!) :) What are words that have needed “pictures” in your family?


  1. I do this with my son as well. He always says, “Yippee I can talk now!” whenever I hand him his drink or whatever it was that he was patiently waiting for. I told him that he was to only ask me one time for something and then he had to wait until I got it for him without asking again. He took that as not being able to talk until I am able to help him. I enjoy the few minutes of quiet too much to tell him that I didn’t quite mean it that way!

    • Amanda,
      That’s awesome… sometimes it’s hard to correct those little misunderstandings. :) I have that same problem also correcting my son when he says, “Hold you Mama!” when he wants me to hold him! :)

  2. Can you come and teach that to my four-year-olds? Thanks!

  3. You are a genius! I love how you found a solution to such a parenting challenge. I hadn’t thought about making a visual representation of these words for my kids, but I sure will now! Great post!

  4. Let me know what are the visual representation for all the other words you wrote down – when you come up with them! :)

  5. Jenny Whitaker says:

    Okay – must know how you explained (in pictures) what Obey looks like? I am using this word often so it is one that my toddler grows to recognize (especially because it is Biblical) but explaining what that looks like… it doesn’t seem quite as easy (thanks for the explanation by the way) of patient. (I am also approaching 18 month old and being 9 months pregnant – 2 months away) needless to say I am anxious to teach these things sooner rather than later! :-) Thanks for your always encouraging, entertaining and often idea-giving blog posts – I am a big fan!


  1. […] sun flower Learn to say mummy and daddy Go to the panto Make a playdoe volcano Learn to be patient http://www.cheeriosandlattes.com/just-a-minute-please-be-patient/ Build a den Make a boat for the bath Build a toy rocket Go family swimming Feed some fish Make an […]

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