Teaching patience to your children – How to ‘Wait With a Happy Face’
‘Delayed gratification’ and ‘patience’ are not terms we use much nowadays.
We’ve all been there.
Pick any random day where your kid has asked you to do or get something for them. This probably happened this morning, right? 🙂
Depending on how dehydrated and/or tired they are, any delay (or perceived delay for that matter) usually results in either a jet-engine whining session revving up with every passing minute or a zero-to-hero screaming fit where they either go stiff as a plank, or rag-doll limp, and nothing you say or do can fix it. Normally followed by big eyes, embarrassed looks and hushed words (and that’s just from you!)
Check out our blog on making sure your kid’s love tank is filled up. Teaching your kids patience when they’re running on empty is not a good idea.
Can I take a pill for that? Please?
Teaching our kids to wait is a harrowing challenge. You may feel the need to medicate (yourself) when you do it. 🙂
If it wasn’t for the insane dividends we reap from doing so, I’d say ‘screw it!’ But parents, it’s so worth it when we see how valuable the learned skill of patience is to our kids, and their future.
Here’s why Waiting is so Good
Teaching our children to wait will help them:
- Wait their turn in a game
- Wait in line
- Think before they act / speak
- Resist peer pressure
- Problem solve without being overcome with frustration
- Be disciplined to sit and study (twice as important as IQ, according to neuroscience researchers Sandra Aamodt and Sam Wang, who co-authored “Welcome to Your Child’s Brain.”)
- Focus on a task until it is complete
- Be kind to others instead of giving in to anger/tantrums
How to Teach Patience
A) Monkey See Monkey Do (Model behaviour): Our kids do what we do, not what we say.
Practice patience in your own life deliberately and tell your kids that you are working on this area in your life, just like them (this is a hard ask, but if we want it in our children we need to demonstrate it ourselves – You can do it!)
B) Give your kids lots of chances to practice patience:
Teaching our kids to occupy themselves while they wait (by singing a little song to themselves, or twiddling their fingers) on a daily basis means our kids will become fitter at it. They will also learn that a waiting period is finite; it has a beginning and an end, which is rewarding in itself. If we give in to them the moment they ask for something they will never learn this. Check out our blog on how to reason with your toddler if you need a bit of help here.
C) Act as if you believe your kids can control themselves:
Tell them, “Show me how nicely you wait with a happy face. Let me see your happy face? Good waiting!” A loving explanation of what is expected of them is how you get things rolling, followed with consistent, positive reinforcement of that behaviour. The French say that it takes love and frustration for the child to construct himself. If we give them love without internal boundaries or restrictions they’ll soon become little tyrants!
D) Take a breath… slow down:
Don’t jump up immediately if your child asks for something; ask her to wait five minutes while you finish doing your task. Likewise, have reasonable expectations of them: don’t expect your child to sit through an entire opera! All you want is for your child to grow stronger at waiting in small, bite-sized increments on a daily basis.
Finally folks, remember that moulding character and teaching skills (like patience), is a long-term project that we cannot reach in a day. We’re doing this one step at a time.
Patience is a muscle. The more we exercise it, the fitter we get at it.
Great job parents!