We have all struggled not only with our own ability to be patient as people and parents, but in teaching patience to our children as well. Contributor Abby King gives us some solid advice in cultivating the fine art of patience in our kids.
Why is patience important? So your kids are able to sit in a restaurant without causing a fuss? No. Ok, sometimes it is. But on a deeper level, the things that really matter in life take time. There are worthy years of learning ahead that require patience. There are times when it’s necessary to understand that to get the job you do like you first need perseverance to do the job you don’t like. Living, achieving, learning and growing take time. When you try to move ahead to the front of the line, at some point you will wind up back at the beginning to learn what you so breezily skipped by the first time. It’s unrealistic to expect children to be perfectly patient. However, it is important that they have the capacity to be reasonably patient. Our children need to build their tolerance to accept delay.
We all know that modern conveniences have given us immediacy while they have robbed us of our patience. Examples are plentiful; let’s take a quick look at how one universal experience has evolved. The television. It started with one television in a home. Then, that television got a remote. One TV per home turned into several and along came the VCR. Ah! You can record a show and watch it later! Cable arrived; followed by Blockbuster, pay per view, more channels, TiVo, DVR, more channels, Apple TV and Netflix. Once upon a time a young child had to wait to see “The Sound of Music” or “Mary Poppins” when it aired once a year on TV. Now you can get the Von Trapp family anytime you want on any device.
Our parents didn’t have to teach us patience, our lives required it. Now, we have a generation of children growing up that actually needs to be taught patience.
Here are a few easy ways to help expand your kid’s tolerance for waiting in peace.
At dinnertime explain that no one eats until everyone is seated and served. The few minutes between placing their plates on the table and turning off the stove and getting your own plate, is just long enough for them to sit, but not too long that its cruel to leave the them facing the food they want but aren’t allowed to eat.
Don’t bring snacks to school pickup. I was guilty of this. As soon as my daughter got out of pre-‐school, I had a snack ready for her in the stroller and off we went. Fast-‐ forward five years and first thing she says when I pick her up from school is “do you have a snack?” I realized I had fallen a little short on parenting. She was asking because I had programmed her that she could expect a snack the moment she wanted it without delay. I stopped bringing snacks with me. It takes about ten minutes to get home from school and another few to unpack her backpack and wash her hands. After that she may have a snack. In total it’s only about 15 minutes but changing this one small part of our routine has had an exponentially positive effect.
When you leave home on a Saturday to go to the park, library or zoo, stop and do something “boring” first. Go to the pharmacy, the post office or the dry cleaners. Doing a small errand that doesn’t revolve around your kids desires before “their” activity, will help expand their willingness to wait for what they want.
Make waiting fun! You can make waiting fun without electronics. Really. There is more than “I spy.” Have you tried making faces? “Emily pretend to be surprised, now scared, sad, silly”… do a rapid-fire face changing game. Then let her tell you what faces to make. There’s always hangman and whisper down the lane. You can play “count the sugar,” taking a quick glance at the sugar tray and then guessing how many blue, pink, yellow and white packets there are. When you are really stuck, tell stories from your childhood. My kids love to hear tales from my life. Keep a pad and pen or a few crayons in your bag and that’s all you need.
Most importantly, model patience for your children. If you pull your phone out every time you have more than two minutes on line at the market, why are you surprised your kids want to play a game on it too? If you are frustrated when cant figure out Apple TV and are too impatient to read the manual, why are you surprised when your child doesn’t want to sit and listen to the rules of a new game? You quit guitar lessons after two months but you expect your son to stick with his piano lessons? Show your children patience, offer it to them and teach them it’s very real value.
Abby King is a writer, aspiring yogi and flywheel addicted single mom of two. In her spare time she bakes and pretends it’s for her kids. Find her at Yoga Class or on The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/abby-king/