I can't talk on the phone when my child is around!

Our three year old daughter Serena is generally well behaved, but in one area she's become quite spoiled.  She has a very hard time waiting for anything, especially when I'm on the phone. Now we're expecting a new baby in a few months and I can't imagine how we'll be able to meet her demands.  Do you have any ideas of how I can teach her to be more patient?

It's not unusual for a first child to get used to having her wants and needs met without having to wait very long.  You are right to be planning ahead on this issue. When your new baby comes, big sister will have to wait.  You can make it easier for her when the time comes if you start now to help her learn to be patient.

You've probably noticed that Serena does play quietly at times, and then after a few minutes gets restless or fidgety or demanding.  If you're like most parents, you've been waiting until that point to stop whatever you're doing and pay attention to her.  However, this response can have the effect of encouraging her to let you know she needs you by being annoying.  You can help her to wait longer and more happily by observing her while she's waiting and watch for the first signs that she's getting impatient.  At that point, tell her:  "What a good job you're doing of waiting.  I really like it when you can be so patient."  Your words will reward her for what she's doing that pleases you, and will reinforce the behavior you want.  At that point, finish up what you are doing as quickly as you can, and give her your full attention for a few minutes.  In this way, she will learn that waiting patiently is rewarded by compliments and by getting your attention, and that she doesn't have to escalate to annoying behavior when she wants you.

Remember that your daughter has learned to wait impatiently for three years, and patience isn't a three year old attribute!  Don't expect to be able to change this pattern quickly.  But if you gradually and consistently reinforce the behavior you want, you'll find that you can eventually make even two phone calls without interruption.