Did you ever count how many times a day your child calls your name or demands your attention? Don’t ask, right? As adults, we know that patience is a virtue, and not an easy one to master. So, it’s no surprise that kids are lacking patience at every turn.
“I want it now!”
Sound familiar? Kids today have learned that instant gratification is just one touch away. There’s an app for everything along with an answer at the tap of a button. So, how do we instill patience in our kids while keeping ours in check? Here are some ways to help.
“Practice makes perfect,” or so the saying goes. Well, no one is perfect, but teaching your child to practice patience is a fundamental way to get started. Some kids are more patient than others, but let’s face it – who likes to stand in line or wait at the doctor’s office? And how many times have you heard: “Are we there yet?”
The key is to start when they’re young. That’s not to say you’re doomed if you didn’t but making them wait a minute or two before refilling their sippy cup is a good place to start. You can gradually push the wait times a little longer as they grow older.
Here are some helpful tips to help your kids practice patience:
- Pass the time by playing games such as “I spy” or “What is your favorite______?” when waiting on long lines.
- Bring sticker or coloring books to appointments.
- Bring lap pads or other devices to keep kids occupied on long drives.
- Do crafting projects that take concentration and creativity. The final product will not only bring gratification, but kids will learn to appreciate the time they spent doing it.
- Play slower-moving board games like “Candy Land” or “Yahtzee Jr.”
- Teach them how to bake. Taking time to measure ingredients, stirring the batter and waiting for your treats to bake teaches patience and delayed gratification.
Be a good role model
Here is where you need to practice what you preach and not lose it when your kid (or kids) tests your patience – which they will. Staying calm and showing them a peaceful disposition in stressful times can be one of the best ways to demonstrate the importance of keeping your cool when it matters most.
We use timers to remind us when our food is ready, or we set our alarms to wake us up. So, why not use them to teach kids the art of delayed gratification? Timers make great tools when the phrase, “I’ll be there in a minute,” must be said. And if you can find a sand timer, even better. Showing them the value of time and the reward for waiting patiently goes a long way and will help them into adulthood.
This may be one of the hardest things for kids to grasp, and possibly one of the most important ones since it comes into play in many aspects of life. The best way to master this life lesson is to purposely expose your child to these situations more frequently instead of avoiding them. The more a child is in a “Wait your turn” situation, the easier it will be for them to learn courtesy and patience.
Grow the piggy bank
How many times have you heard, “But Bobby (or whoever) has one, why can’t I?” Teaching your child delayed gratification by saving for their new favorite toy is a powerful life lesson and one that teaches financial responsibility as they grow older.
Teaching your child to have patience doesn’t come wrapped in a tidy little bow. It takes patience on your end and a lot of tongue biting at times to send the message. But in the end, your child will realize it was all worth the wait.