3 Ways to Teach Kids to Be Patient

I’ll admit that I am not the poster parent for patience.  And while we’re at it…our world isn’t advertising patience to our kids either.  In fact, it’s the exact opposite. Everything is instant.  Hello—snap chat, instant messaging, and Amazon 2-day shipping.  I mean, right?  If I have to wait more than 2 days for something to be shipped to me, I’m all like….WHAT???

Well, patience may not be expected in our world all the time, but it sure should be expected in our homes and from our kids and while we’re at it…from ourselves.  The Character Tool in our Teamwork Parenting Approach teaches us to focus our parenting and our expectations in our family on character traits and patience is a big one! But how do we teach patience?  Especially when we may not be a patient parent?

Well, it takes teamwork.  I believe that everything in our homes takes teamwork.  Here are 3 ways to work as a family to encourage more patience…

1.  Define patience:  When we say “Wait” or “Be patient” to our kids, it’s like they hear us saying: “You’re never going to EVER get what you’re asking for.”  And that’s not fun for kids to hear.  So we just simply need to train them on what “Wait” or “Be patient” actually means.  Yes, at times it may mean that they may never EVER get something they’ve asked for–especially if they ask to play with a knife or eat 8 suckers.  But in general, it means that they will get what they’re asking for but that they are simply being asked to wait.

2.  Present patience as a skill:  Once they understand the concept of waiting, then, we can really pump it up as something they get to practice and get better at. “You’re 4 now.  When mommy/daddy asks you to wait, you can practice being so patient now that you’re older.”  When it’s a skill that they can always improve on, then it’s more empowering for them to “get better at it.”  It turns patience from something you’re just asking them to do into something that they can do for themselves and be good at it.

3.  Give examples of patient behaviors:  Take time to introduce moments in life when they will use the skill of patience–restaurants, doctor’s offices, God’s timing, etc.  Don’t give examples while they are in a fit because you’ve said “no” or asked them to wait because they won’t hear you. But wait for calm moments throughout your day and find opportunities in your daily life to point out patience—you can say: “Look at the spider patiently waiting on his web for a meal.” Or–“It’s so frustrating when we have to wait for a train, but it’s a good thing we can be patient.” And the best part is to point out moments when your kids do choose to show patience so they can recognize patient behaviors in themselves.

Then, as a team, you can make a list of things they can do when they are asked to wait so they can look at being patient as an opportunity to do something else with their time.

Working with your kids to encourage patience in waiting will help your whole family be more patient in waiting too.  Because dang, I’ve learned to be more patient simply because I know my kids are watching and learning…and so are yours.  😉

Lord, we live in an impatient, high-speed, fast-expectations world.  But through You, we can be still.  We can be patient.  We can be kind.  And that’s the kind of love we want in our homes. 

Here’s to building better families–

Christine