As adults, we are keenly aware of how frustrating the world can be. And, we know that learning the skill of being patient will make our kids’ lives easier, especially if they develop the skill now when they are still young. But how do we do that?
Our kids have grown up with everything handed to them at a snap of their fingers. Since we are so often in a rush, we offer them what they want ASAP. They can get information or responses almost immediately using their computer, tablet or smartphone.
So, how can we teach them the benefits of patience when the world around them encourages instant gratification?
Be a Patient Role Model
We know our kids watch us, even when we don’t realize it, so they can learn how to pattern their own behavior. So, the first and best way to help our children learn to practice patience is to be patient ourselves.
If this is a real struggle for you, start actively developing patience in yourself. Depending on the age of the children, you might want to share this self-improvement goal of yours and why it’s so important to live a happier life.
Acknowledge the Struggle
Kids need to understand (ummm, and so do adults) that waiting is just a part of life. There;s no way around it. When you are stuck in traffic or forced to wait in line for something, and the kids are fidgeting, just calmly come out and say that waiting is a pain because it wastes good play time. But that it is something that we all have to do – we have to wait our turn. Then thank them for being so patient. Don’t forget to model patience yourself!
Give Them the Practice of Waiting
To avoid a lot of drama and tantrums, you may find yourself jumping immediately up to get your kids what they want, including your attention. Research shows that kids actually learn patience by practicing it – so give them the opportunities.
When you are busy with something and they request a snack or for you to play with them, explain that you will be there shortly, that you need to finish what you are in the middle of. They will get good at entertaining themselves while they wait for you and learn that they won’t get everything in life exactly when they want it.
Plan Activities that Require Patience
There are a lot of fun activities you can enjoy with your kids that are a process or that require patience. For example, plan a craft that must be finished in stages, like making a paper mache pinata. Bake together. Get them to help you with the garden. Play board games that require a longer amount of time to play. These activities give your children a chance to see that good things do come to those who wait, and that some things are worth waiting for.