What to do with “Wait Time”: Community

  • Situation

    My child always seems to “get into trouble” or has temper tantrums when we are in public. He especially has a difficult time when he has to wait for anything! How can I help my child behave in public?

  • Summary

    The problem may be too much unstructured time. Children often don’t know how to occupy themselves during “down time” or wait time. Prepare a “what if bag”, “wait bag”, or “fidget bin” for those unpredictable times. Allow your child to choose an item from the bag to engage with while waiting, then have your child return the item when it’s time to focus on the activity or when the “down time” is over.

  • Definition

    Waiting is difficult to do for many children. Too long of a wait can lead to challenging behaviors. A “what if bag”, “wait bag”, or “fidget bin” filled with favorite items can be utilized when faced with unpredictable, unstructured time. Planning ahead of time for situations in which waiting occurs can greatly reduce unwanted behaviors.

  • Quick Facts

    • Child's Age: 3-5, 6-10, 11-13, 14-17, 18+
    • Planning Effort: Low
    • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Pre-requisites

    Knowledge of high preference items reserved for specific situations

  • Process

    1. Prepare a bag containing high preference toys/objects

    2. Remember to take “wait bag” with you prior to leaving for an activity if “wait time” might occur

    3. While waiting give “wait bag” to child or allow child to choose item from “wait bag”

    4. Collect “wait bag” after activity/event

    5. Prepare “wait bag” for next use

    6. Limit access to items in bag so they remain enticing

  • Documents and Related Resources

    Social Skills Module to Manage Wait Times (Watson Resource module)



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