Waiting in line is hard for everyone! Stop worrying about your kid waiting in line by using these 12 tips that can be used anywhere!

Waiting in line is hard for everyone! Stop worrying about your kid waiting in line by using these 12 tips that can be used anywhere! #waitinginline #waitinginlinedisney #waitinginlinekids #waitinginlineactivitiesforkids

While dropping my children off at school today, it reminded me HOW HARD waiting in line is! I was giving my son, my “Mom Eye” to stop jumping around, but it was not working. He was too excited or felt too confided in standing on the line with his classmates that he could NOT JUST STAND STILL.

As a school-based Occupational Therapist, I see this all of the time. Kids are waiting in line at school several times a day and it’s hard! And then they go home and are waiting in line at the grocery store, or any store with a checkout. Next time you are waiting in line with your kids, try these easy strategies!

12 Easy Waiting in Line Strategies

  1. Give yourself a hug by wrapping your arms around your body and squeeze while counting to ten. Repeat several times if needed
    Give Yourself a Hug
  2. Mountain Breathing is great for kids who are being loud in line. Extend one hand as if you are going to give a high-five. Use the pointer finger of your other hand and start at the base of your thumb. Breath in slowly while your pointer finger “climbs” the first mountain until you reach the top. Breath out slowly while your finger “climbs” down the mountain. Watch your finger so that it does not fall off the mountain! Climb all five mountains!
    Mountain Breathing: start at base of finger and move up to tip on inhale.
  3. Wall push-ups with hands close together. If you are lucky enough to be standing near a wall or a stationary object that can support weight wall push-ups are great! Stand approximately one step away from the way. Place arms on the wall so that your hands are not touching but almost. Move your body toward the wall by bending your elbows and looking at your hands. The key to this strategy is to look at your hands! Looking at your hands will bring your focus closer to your body and not all around you.
    Child doing standing pushup on tree looking at space between hands.
  4. Put your hands in your pocket. This is a great strategy! Putting your hands in your pockets does not only keep your hands physically from touching something, but most pockets are small and will give some proprioception feedback, which is calming.
  5. Stretch. Raise both arms above head as high as you can for 5 seconds and then stretch and touch your toes for 5 seconds. Repeat 5 times.
  6. Star Stretch. Raise your arms up over your head while you spread your feet apart. Stretch for 5 seconds and then relax. For added input, do one Star Stretch for 5 seconds and then hug yourself for 5 seconds. Repeat 5 times.
    Star Stretch
  7. Brush your body with your hand. Using your flat hand, cross your arms and place your hand on your shoulders. Using a firm hand, brush your hand away from your body. Repeat until you reach your hands. If this is too hard, do one arm at a time. Then jump to your stomach, uncross your arms and brush your trunk until you reach your legs. Next cross your arms and brush your hips, repeating until you reach your ankles. Uncrossing your arms will make it easier for kids who have a hard time with that.
    Use a firm hand and place on shoulder Firm hand on shoulder and brush off
  8. Put your wiggles in your fingers. Tell your child to imagine taking their wiggles out of their feet and to put them in their fingers. Then have them wiggle their fingers at various speeds. Their fingers WILL get tired of wiggling! When this happens, “catch” the wiggles by cupping your hands together and brush them away.
  9. Push hands together by putting your palms together and count to 5. Repeat 5 times.
  10. Finger squeezes are helpful for kids who are touching everything. Start by squeezing the nail of the thumb and continue to work up the finger until you reach the palm. Then go to the nail of the pointer finger and squeeze, repeating until you reach the palm. Do the same thing for the remaining fingers on that hand before switching to the other hand.
    Squeezing Fingers to Calm Down
  11. Limb squeezes work great for proprioception, the ultimate calming strategy! Cross your body with your arms and squeeze your shoulders with your hands. Continue to squeeze your arms until you reach your hands. Then uncross your arms and jump to your trunk and give a few squeezes. Next cross your arms and squeeze the top of your legs and continue to squeeze down to your ankles.
  12. Counting is a great tool and can be used in so many different ways! Pick a way that is familiar to your child but requires them to think. Counting backwards or by 2’s or by 3’s are my favorite ways. For kids who already know how to count, counting to a number such as 10, 20, or 100 is too mindless.

Waiting in Line Strategies too Hard?

If you find that some of these strategies are too hard try simplifying it.

Instead of having your child cross their arms for Brushing Your Body and Limb Squeezes, cross one arm at a time. Move down the whole arm before moving to the next arm. Being able to move your arms across your body is called crossing midline. This can be really hard for some kids.

Although Mountain Breathing is one of my favorites, sometimes your kiddo can not attend that long. If this is happening, do Mountain Breathing with your kiddo by guiding their hand the right speed and placement. Remember it does not have to be perfect! If your kiddo is focusing on their finger and breathing slower than I would leave it alone.

The counting strategy can sometimes backfire when your kiddo picks the number and/or the way they want to count. If this happens and they become more silly, then you pick the number and the method.

Now That you have these Strategies, Now What?

Use them as a new and exciting activity for your kiddo the next time you are waiting in line! I will often say something like, “Hey, let’s try this neat trick I learned.” or “Let’s play a game while we stand here. Do what I do.”

Once your kiddo has learned how to do the strategies, you can have them pick which one they would like to use. Or you can give them a choice between two and have them pick!

If you find a strategy that works for your kid, share it with their school teachers! Most teachers are open to learning strategies that help your child, especially waiting in line!

Now that you have 12 strategies to help your child with waiting in line, you hopefully won’t need to use your “Mom Eye”!

To help you remember what they are pin this post to your sensory board in Pinterest!

Want some Boredom Busting Brain Teasers for waiting in line?

Check out, 20 Waiting Games for Kids that Will Tickle Your Brain.


Kelly is a licensed Occupational Therapist with 15 years of experience servicing school-aged children and Early Intervention. She is the founder of OT Perspective and a mom to 4 children. To learn more about her check out on her About Me page, here .