They say patience is a virtue, and while none of us enjoy waiting, it’s even harder on kids who have yet to understand how important it is. As parents, it’s our job to help encourage their growth and development, part of which involves instilling patience in them.
It can be difficult to teach a new concept if you don’t understand where to begin. Thankfully, parenting experts can be extremely helpful in understanding what strategies work more effectively, so you can begin moving in the right direction with haste. With that said, perhaps the most important key is to be patient with them as they learn to be patient with you.
Here are 6 ways you can teach patience to kids of any age.
1. Use reflective listening.
According to Scholastic Magazine, who spoke to a panel of parenting experts, reflective listening is beneficial. When kids are small, they have a harder time describing how they feel. So, a way you can help them is to acknowledge the source of their discomfort. For example, if you were in line, you could say, “I know it’s hard waiting. It is taking a long time. Thank you for doing such a good job waiting.” Roni Leiderman, Ph.D., associate dean of the Mailman Segal Institute for Early Childhood Studies at Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida says, “If you acknowledge your child’s struggle, he’ll naturally try harder.”
2. Make it a positive experience.
As adults, we know that sometimes we have to wait and that it will benefit us if we do. Kids cannot see the big picture in the same way we do. What you can do is when they are waiting, and they continue to ask, “When is it? Is it time yet?” etc., you should be patient. They aren’t trying to be bad-they just don’t get it yet. If you snap, you make it a negative experience, which reinforces their bad feelings. If you make it positive, it will become a learned behavior.
3. Let them experience the wait.
If you use a screen to pass time, you may end up with a bad habit that can have a negative impact. What I mean, is that if they are on their tablet, computer, or whatever screen, they6 aren’t experiencing the wait in the same way they would if they were more engaged in the present moment. Instead, find other ways to productively pass time by, so they will be able to experience the wait, while also having a positive experience to reaffirm their ability to wait.
4. Don’t break promises.
If you made a promise to them, keep it. Think about it, when you make a promise and then break it, the ‘wait’ will feel much longer than it should. This can cultivate a mindset that any time they have to wait, it will never happen or take forever.
5. Reinforce self-control.
It is difficult to learn patience when you are still learning to control your emotions and actions. Help your child with this by using small moments to reinforce self-control. For example, if your child is whining because they want to get on the computer, do not let them get on the computer until they have stopped whining and talking back. This will reaffirm that impatience will not benefit them.
6. Have a visual representation.
It can make things much easier for you and your kids if you use a visual aid. You see, if your child is waiting, they are going to likely keep asking, “Is it time?” One way to circumvent that is to make a visual aid they can use as a reference. This can be a calendar, a drawing, or any other countdown.