Being patient takes practice and hard work but its worth it when you begin to reap the benefits of what a patient mind and state can bring you.
Patience is a virtue that can be instilled in children. Patience teaches children the value of delaying gratification, a skill necessary for maturity. Patience can help develop the ability to think through and resolve problems; it can counteract impulsivity and acting out behaviors. The value of patience lies in its ability to lead to inner calm and emotional strength of character. Teaching patience by example helps children learn resilience, self-containment, and the ability to self-soothe. These are qualities needed for emotional maturity.
The first thing to do is to teach by modelling being patient yourself. Take time to look at the child and listen carefully when she is talking to you. Giving your attention even when you are distracted or busy shows the quality of patience more clearly than words can explain it.
When the kids are demanding you to do something right away refrain from yelling at them to “stop,” or “be quiet,” (or worse.) Instead, explain to the children the reasons you may not be able to fulfill their requests immediately. Match your explanations to the child’s age and level of maturity. Offer the child something to do in the interim, and be sure to return to tending to the child’s request when you say you will. Having your attention at the end of a period when the child must be patient will be rewarding and tend to reinforce the patient behaviour.
Work with your kids to resolve problems when they are frustrated with trying to deal with something. Help to trouble shoot and think things through together. This will demonstrate patience by example. If you both get frustrated, suggest taking a breather, when you both get away from the problem for a few minutes. Then come back together to deal with it.
Practice relaxation techniques that prepare you for patience when your children are trying yours. Teach relaxation skills to the children. Little kids love to daydream. You can try a few minutes of quiet time with them to train them to use this as a patience technique.
The most effective way to determine how best to teach your child the art of patience is to observe him and try to pinpoint his triggers.
Do puzzles cause frustration?
Is turn-taking difficult?
Does your child always seem to seek perfection?
Is practicing a new skill difficult?
Pinpointing the specific triggers will help you know where to begin. For example, if puzzles frustrate your child because he can’t get started, you can help him learn to group the corner pieces, outside pieces, match colours, etc.
Three things that will contribute to impatience include: Nagging, rushing, and sarcasm. Please avoid these.
Below are 5 tips to help you teach your child to be more patient:
1. Model patience:
Being patient doesn’t mean just being able to wait; it means being able to wait calmly (eye rolling, sighs, and whining do not count). It can be difficult to remain patient when you’re trying to get the kids to school and no one has shoes on, or when you’re late for an important appointment. This is exactly when you need to remain calm. Use humour and games to keep kids moving along, laugh when something doesn’t go according to plan, and problem-solve out loud when something becomes stressful. When I start verbalizing my potential problem solving strategies, the kids start chiming in with me. Just the other day I walked in on Liam talking his way through a puzzle. It works.
2.Use reflective listening:
It’s hard to wait in line all morning, especially when you would rather be playing. Acknowledge the struggle and help your child verbalize her feelings. Be sure to use a calm voice, make eye contact, and keep your body posture stress-free. Sometimes kids just need to feel heard, and a little help verbalizing those frustrations in a calm manner.
How many times have you caught yourself responding to a request with “in a minute”? Minutes are meaningless to young children, made more meaningless by the fact that we say “in a minute,” but don’t actually follow through. Children need to learn about delayed gratification. The next time your child asks for something when you are busy doing something else, try saying “I’m setting the timer for 2 minutes. I just have to do a few dishes but I will be right over when the timer goes off”. Often, they will have solved the problem independently before you get there. If not, they will learn that they are capable of waiting for two minutes. **Timers are also great for teaching sharing. I prefer the old fashion sand timers, as it allows them to visualize time ticking away.
4.Teach coping skills:
Sometimes you just have to wait. Just this morning, we had a very long wait at Panera. We passed the time playing our favourite game, “what’s your favourite____?” Making a game of waiting can pass the time quickly. I Spy, rhyming, silly stories, counting shapes, and two truths and one story are all fun verbal games to play while waiting. If you know you will have a wait at a doctor’s office or somewhere else, bring a busy binder that includes coloring pages, crayons and markers, stickers, etc. And lap pads for long car rides are a must.
5.Activities that require patience:
One of the downsides of battery-operated lifestyles and a heavy focus on technology is that kids are over-exposed to instant gratification. Choose projects and activities that require time and patience, such as planting, mosaics (with paper), and pottery, and slower-moving games like Yahtzee Jr., Chutes & Ladders, and checkers. Planting projects are great because they learn to care for their seeds every day. They have to show great patience and diligence to help those seeds grow!
Remember its important to let things unfold in their own time.
- A child may try to help a butterfly emerge by breaking open a chrysalis but chances are the butterfly won’t benefit from this help.
- Practicing patience with ourselves. “Why rush through some moments in order to get to other ‘better’ ones? Each one is your life in that moment.”
- Being completely open to each moment, accepting its fullness, knowing that like the butterfly, things will emerge in their own time.
Teach yourelf and your children to appreciate and anjoy what they are experiencing now, not to be eager to get onto something deemed more exciting!
Practising mindfulness, such as connecting through our senses, can help us connect with the present moment an appreciate and notice what is around them and happening right now, IN THIS MOMENT.
Notice colours, smell those flowers, take time to taste food, listen to a piece of music together and descrive the textures of things. These will all help you and your child connect with the present moment.
Practising patience reminds us that we don’t have to fill up our moments with activity and with more thinking in order for them to be rich. In fact it helps us to remember that quite the opposite is true. To be patient is simply to be completely open to each moment, accepting it in its fullness, knowing that, like the butterfly, things can only unfold in their own time