How do you develop good character in your kids… positive traits like patience, joy, love, gentleness, and self-control? No one is born with good character… it has to be taught and learned. It is particularly difficult knowing how to teach patience. (The grasping of how to learn patience is not easy for kids either.) If there ever were two things that don’t go together naturally, it’s patience and children. (We think the words, what a patient child, exist only in fiction!) Let’s face it: lots of adults have a hard time exercising patience from time to time. It can be really hard!
But learning to do so is important to a person’s overall character, and therefore worth reaching for. Here are some practical ways to help your children grow in this area at any age.
1. Start small, start short
Start requiring small doses of patience from your child at a very early age—even when they’re toddlers. Of course, you may only be asking them to calm down and wait quietly for 1-2 minutes before you’ll put more milk in the sippy cup, but it’s a start. As your child gets older, you can push them to show patience for longer periods of time until their desires are met.
For a child, having patience is a matter of learning that they can and should control their emotions and actions, even when they are anxious, eager, or tired. Require your child to regain some self-control before you fulfill their request. Doing so while they’re acting out will only instill the idea that acting out impatiently isn’t the way to get what you want.
For a child, having patience is a matter of learning that they can and should control their emotions and actions, even when they are anxious, eager, or tired.
3. Purposeful delays
In a world where instant gratification is everywhere, parents may need to purposefully delay some things for no other reason but to teach patience. If your daughter wants a new puppy, there may be no real reason for her not to have it now. But waiting for Christmas or her birthday might teach her that she can wait for things that matter, and have it all turn out OK in the end.
4. Taking turns
When thinking about how to teach patience, nothing is better for a child than having to wait his or her turn for something fun. The only way to get better at this is to practice. If your child struggles with waiting his turn for the swings, make more frequent trips to the park—not less—to reinforce the need to be courteous and patient. The repetition will help him learn to cope with the wait.
5. Patience and older kids
One area where our culture has become increasingly impatient is with consumer habits. Train your older children to manage their buying and to wait until they can truly afford an item before making a purchase. Resist the urge to loan them the last $20 until they’ve truly earned it, unless you want to keep loaning for the rest of their lives.
Tell us! How do you teach patience to your kids?