Parenting Parenting Tips

Parenting Tips of the Week: A Lesson in Patience

One of the greatest virtues that we as parents can teach our children is patience. The best things in life are worth waiting for. Here are some tips to help kids and parents alike learn patience.

Anything Worth Having is Worth Waiting For

by Jennifer Shakeel

Boy learning the virtues of patience
Boy learning the virtues of patience

One of the greatest virtues that we as parents can teach our children is patience. I know that in our hectic lives where we are often surrounded by the chaos of work, being mom and dad, driving to practices and games as well as trying to be a husband or a wife to our spouse… patience if often far from our mind. We have all been irritated at the time it took to get through a drive thru for a sweet tea, but we as adults also understand the importance of being patient.

The best things in life are the things that we had to wait to get. For example, each one of my children and my husband, all four of them I had to wait for… and I now I don’t know what I would do without them. You tend to not take for granted things that took patience to get. This is an appreciation that is missing from many youths of today. I hate to say… but the people that are at fault for this… the parents.

I understand the reason, for many if they just give in to what their child wants when they want it… it is one less headache they have to deal with. But as that child gets older, the demands are going to be greater… and honestly they are going to end up being very frustrated as adults when things don’t go their way. While it is far easier to start when they are young to teach them patience… it is never too late to start.

This begs that question, how do we teach our children to be patient? Here are a number of tips that you can try, these are tips that I have used and they worked on two of three children. The third one is only 8 ½ months old, so she is still a work in progress.

Parenting Tip One: Lead by Example

As much as you want to rush through the store to grab everything for dinner and you just wish that everyone else would get out of your way… don’t rush. Take a deep breath and think about what you are teaching your children. (If they aren’t with you, it can be our secret that you rushed through whipping around people like a mad person.) If your kids are with you it is important that they see you exhibit patience at a moment that you really want something done NOW.

Remember that when we are patient and take a moment to let things take their course, we are actually less stressed… and thereby less inclined to yell at our kids over nothing.

Parenting Tip Two: Tell Them Everything Has Its Own Time

Toast does not brown instantly, the sun does not come up on demand and you don’t operate according to their latest whim. When you are in the middle of making dinner and they come rushing in yelling because they want you to do something for them, take a deep breath, look at them and tell them they are going to have to wait until you are finished. Now if they are bleeding or have a broken bone or someone is injured go running to see what you can do and forget dinner. But if it isn’t life threatening it can wait five minutes for you to complete a task.

Just as when they are standing in line to get on a ride at the amusement park, or waiting in line to buy the latest CD they had to have… they have to wait their turn at home.

Parenting Tip Three: Explain to Them Why They Need to Wait

As I said earlier, you tend to appreciate things more that do not come instantaneously. When they are little teach them about nature. What I used to do is let them pick out a flower they wanted to grow. We would get a pot for each of their plants, and soil and they would get their own little watering cans and they would plant their seeds. I explained that the plants needed so much water, so much food and so much sun each day for them to grow and bloom into the flower they wanted to see.

Now, in the beginning we went through a number of plants… because they would see the first little green bud come up and think that more sun or more water would help it grow faster and they would either kill it by drying it out or drowning the poor plant.

If you rush coloring a page in a coloring book, you are probably not going to do your best and the page is going to be messy. Color with your kids, and show them how to take the time to color in the lines and fill in all the space inside of those lines.

Parenting Tip Four:  Set Goals with Them

When there is something that they really want, and you want to make them wait for it to help them learn how to be patient… set a goal. For our son, he always wanted a new video game or a new toy or something. So what we did was set up a goal chart, and for so many books read he would earn one of his items. Now, this did two things, it taught him that he had to wait and do what he needed to do in order to get something it ALSO taught him that everything he wants in a hurry aren’t necessarily things he really wants.

Parenting Tip Five: Give Concrete Responses

Try not to say “in a little bit”, or “in a while” when your child asks you for something. This is only going to lead to them asking again and them getting frustrated. So make sure that you tell them when they can expect something to happen. As above I recommended telling them that they would have to wait until you finished preparing dinner. Younger kids can understand if you say, “When mom/dad gets home,” or “After we get done at the grocery store.”

Parenting Tip Six: You have to Follow Through

When you tell your kids something, for example, “We can play together after lunch.” You need to make sure that you play with them after lunch. Showing them that if they wait for something it will happen encourages them to be patient when it comes to getting what they want.

Parenting Tip Seven: Reward Them For Being Patient

You have made your kids go to the grocery store with you (which took almost 2 hours) and you made them sit in the care while you drove around running errands. Once you are done, on the way home, reward them with something special for them being so patient and understanding. When they see that they get something unexpected and fun for being patient… it encourages them to repeat that behavior.

Final Tip: Find fun activities that require patience

There are many activities that require patience that kids will find fun. Some include fishing, crafts, drawing, building a house of cards.

Just use a little imagination and I be you can think of a few yourself!!

Jennifer Shakeel is a writer and former nurse with over 12 years medical experience.  As a mother of two incredible children with one on the way, I am here to share with you what I have learned about parenting and the joys and changes that take place during pregnancy. Together we can laugh and cry and rejoice in the fact that we are moms!

No part of this article may be copied or reproduced in any form without the express permission of More4Kids Inc © 2009 All Rights Reserved


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  • Thank you for sharing your article teaching kids to be patient. God bless you for sharing!

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