How to teach your little ones delayed gratification

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We have all met kids (and adults) who are impatient and expect everything they ask for when they ask for it. It seems these people haven’t learnt the value of delayed gratification. This isn’t surprising when our world is so fast and busy and we are always looking to get to the next appointment or tick of the next task.

Instant gratification and patience or waiting can be tricky skills to teach, so I chatted to Psychologist + child development specialist Rachel Tomlinson to get a professional’s views on delayed gratification, why it’s important and how to teach our little ones about it.

Fair warning… you may really want a chocolate bar after listening to this episode!

Rachel answers the following questions:

  • From a development point of view, when do little ones understand concepts such as patience and waiting? [1:50].
  • People often label kids as being impatient, spoiled or entitled. Is there anything wrong with or are there any downsides to wanting things instantly? [3:53]
  • Where do you see instant gratification showing up more frequently today compared to the past? [7:06]
  • What are some of the ways we can teach our little ones to learn to wait? [8:39]
  • I use goal charts for my little ones and have done for years. They helped a lot to manage the expectations around getting things they asked for and having to earn the money to buy something themselves. What are some of the ways parents can teach their little ones to wait, be patient and enjoy the process of earning something? [11:44]
  • The adults are becoming less patient, if we are becoming less patient, what can we do to build the delayed gratification muscles? [14:00]

You can listen to the full episode of ‘Tude Talk TV (20 mins or play on fast speed).


Weigh up if there is an additional benefit if you wait a little longer.

The opposite is also true, the challenges if you can’t delay gratification you have a higher likelihood to have challenges

Try the 5-4-3-2-1 Activity [17:00]

Check out The Barefoot Investor for Families by Scott Pape

For a little light entertainment and learning, look up ‘Delayed Gratification Experiments’ on YouTube. It’s amusing how kids process delayed gratification, which can also be seen in adult behaviour as well!


Many Thanks to Rachel Tomlinson is a registered psychologist, author of two internationally published books and child development expert. She has experience working in education settings, play therapy, counselling and parenting support programs. You can find out more on her website or follow on Instagram.

PPhoto by Patrick Fore on Unsplash


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