Teaching children patience can sometimes test your own patience. Patience is a struggle for me. I don’t like to wait for outcomes. If I buy someone a gift, I want to give it to them right away.
I think now more than ever, as a society that doesn’t have to wait for much, patience is even more important.
The best way to teach patience is to model that for your children. Here are a few ways to work in activities to teach patience into your everyday life.
Do activities that require patience: Bake cookies, boil water for making dinner, plant a small garden, or grow a small cup of grass in the window. Activities that require them to wait for the reward will help develop patience in your children.
Incorporate time into your daily routine: Give warnings when transitioning from one thing to another. Try this before bedtime, before leaving for the store, before you clean up the play-doh, when it’s time to read a book, etc. You can also set timers for daily activities such as brushing teeth, washing hands, or general cleaning.
Sit through the commercials: During screen time, find a show that has commercials. There are so many streaming services these days that even a fun activity like watching a favorite show is teaching children instant gratification. If you can find a show with commercials, they will learn to be patient and wait for the good parts, which models positive outcomes for delayed gratification.
Work “patience” into your vocabulary: Remind your children daily to choose patience or practice patience. Use the word frequently and draw attention to it when you are modeling it. If you are in a long line at the grocery store, draw attention to how you will all wait together patiently until it is your turn. Working the word and the action into your every day will increase awareness.
Remember that learning patience, like so many other important lessons involved with child development, is not something that can be absorbed overnight. It requires time, persistence, and most of all…patience! Starting small with activities that are fun and easy is a great way to show young children the benefits of patience. Best of luck!