3 Improv Games to Practice Patience

I’m on stage with a team of four other improvisors, performing for a live audience. I have such a funny idea!

I don’t want to forget it, so I jump on stage and start a scene by blurting:

“My name’s Bob! I sell animals here on the sidewalk! Here’s a panda! Who wants to buy it?”

But ugh.

I’m scripting the scene (again). It can be useful to have a strong idea to start a scene, but deep inside I know I’m improvising from a place of fear. Fear leads me to taking over and closing myself off to other ideas. And away from patience. From letting the scene unfold with my partner.

Here’s the breakdown of my impatient improv:


Similarly, here’s a breakdown of my impatient parenting:


We live in an impatient culture, made only more so with our technology and online connectedness. And in general, I know I am a calmer, less stressed and more pleasant person when I’m being patient — with myself and others.

Patience is important in my parenting.

I want to model a skill that’s important to me. Delayed gratification is tied to lots of important academic and interpersonal skills over the lifespan.

And patience leads to better connection and communication between me and my kids.

But boy, it is hard to practice it during daily, mundane tasks: Just get your damn shoes on, please!

Improv offers insight into the practice of patience.

Patience is a muscle we can strengthen. And improv offers a space to practice it over and over, both playfully and seriously.

Here are 3 games to try at home, when you want to develop your, or a family member’s, patience muscles.


I don’t want to always emphasize patience when I’m parenting.

Sometimes it’s a virtue overtaken by safety, or another value I hold, such as being on time. Or even my own desires, like leaving the park because I feel ready.

But when you’re feeling extra short on patience — in your improv or your improvising as parent — give these games a play to sharpen up your patience powers.