Teaching patience to children goes beyond values. Learning how to be patient creates preschool readiness, decreases social problems and may prolong a child’s life. Knowing how to be patient is a learned behavior. What teaching strategies do you need?
The Type A Personality Trap
Learning how to be patient is contrary to the celebrated Type A personality, which is supposed to be the mover and shaker in today’s business world. Teaching strategies that focus on patience over anxiety to get things done actually takes the driving sense of urgency out of everyday situations.
A blogger at the University of Texas points to the deteriorating health effects of a lack of patience — such as the risk of heart disease — and traces them back to Type A personalities’ “inability to accept that what happens” when it goes beyond the level of control they like to exert. It stands to reason that learning how to be patient can save the child’s life in the long run.
Teaching Strategies for Patience
Teaching patience is not quite as simple as it sounds, no matter what ages the kids might be. Learning how to be patient is never a pleasant exercise and parents have to make a conscientious decision to see the lessons through to their completion. So what teaching strategies can you use?
Rather than grabbing the candy bar for that twinge of hunger on the way out of the store, mom or dad need to point out that there is a bag of Cheerios, cookies or something else waiting in the car or at home. Parents have an easy time teaching patience in this manner, since they have control of the money.
It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it
If you snap at your children to hurry up and get moving, teaching kids patience will be difficult. Modeling is a crucial factor when children decide to follow your lead; the odds are good that they are not going to follow your words but your actions. If you are the classic example of an impatience parent, you will raise up an impatient child. Re-learn how to speak to junior; learning how to be patient may become easier for the child.
Work through a problem; don’t fix it
Even though a preschooler may need a parent’s stepping in, an elementary school-aged child does not necessarily need Mr. Fix It to solve her problems. Make the time to listen to her explain the issue. Validate that you hear what she tells you and let her work through different options for a solution. Offer input when asked, but don’t fix the situation. This is one of the most labor-intensive teaching strategies and requires — you guessed it — copious amounts of patience on your part.
Although there is no guarantee that your children learn how to be patient and put all these lessons into practice, teaching kids patience is a must for all parents. Showing youngsters how to delay gratification, speak with patience and work through problems in a logical (and patient) manner are lessons with a lifetime impact.
Brenna Cleeland: “Urgency – When Impatience Hinders Inhibitions”