Teaching Kids Patience
Patience is a virtue that can be instilled in children. Patience teaches children the value of delaying gratification, a skill necessary for maturity. Patience can help develop the ability to think through and resolve problems; it can counteract impulsivity and acting out behaviors. The value of patience lies in its ability to lead to inner calm and emotional strength of character. Teaching patience by example helps children learn resilience, self-containment, and the ability to self-soothe. These are qualities needed for emotional maturity.
General Tips for Parents on Teaching Patience to Children
Teach by modeling. Refrain from snapping impatiently at your children. Use "no-shaming" techniques to help your child understand that she or he may need to wait or take some time before a need is addressed or request is fulfilled.
Take time to look at the child and listen carefully when she is talking to you. Giving your attention even when you are distracted or busy shows the quality of patience more clearly than words can explain it.
When the kids are demanding you to do something right away refrain from yelling at them to “stop,” or “be quiet,” (or worse.) Instead, explain to the children the reasons you may not be able to fulfill their requests immediately. Match your explanations to the child’s age and level of maturity. Offer the child something to do in the interim, and be sure to return to tending to the child’s request when you say you will. Having your attention at the end of a period when the child must be patient will be rewarding and tend to reinforce the patient behavior.
Work with your kids to resolve problems when they are frustrated with trying to deal with something. Help to trouble shoot and think things through together. This will demonstrate patience by example. If you both get frustrated, suggest taking a breather, when you both get away from the problem for a few minutes. Then come back together to deal with it.
Practice relaxation techniques that prepare you for patience when your children are trying yours. Teach relaxation skills to the children. Little kids love to daydream. You can try a few minutes of quiet time with them to train them to use this as a patience technique.
Reprinted with the permission of the National Association of Social Workers.
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