Kids are not the most understanding of beings. They don’t have the capacity in most cases. One virtue that will do them well in life is patience, and here is how parents can learn to instill it into their little bundles of joy.
Children are not used to waiting. With my boys I had to figure out how to stop them from interrupting, so now in the car if I’m talking to my husband, and they need our attention, instead of interrupting they will put their hand on my shoulder or back whichever they can reach until I acknowledge them. That way they don’t interrupt and get in trouble. We still haven’t mastered inside yet like when I’m on the phone or someone stops over. We’re still working on that.
They get it honestly from birth. Because they can’t speak, they cry. When they cry, we as parents come running. They get picked up and cuddled. They get their diapers changed. They are fed a bottle. They hear tones from mom’s or dad’s lips in an effort to lull them back to dreamland. What is to prevent them from expecting to have their needs met all the time in this way? Nothing, because they are used to it!
Tired, we go through a routine of feeding, changing and tending to our tiny toddlers so that we can get on with what we want to do. Unfortunately, it can set up a precedent. Kids expect what they want right when they want it. If they don’t get it, bad behavior ensues. A.M will throw a fit, yes he’s 10 but he’ll say I’m ignoring him, or if he doesn’t get fed right away, he says I’m starving him, yes he’s very dramatic.
Everything in life won’t result in instant satisfaction. There are times that they have to wait. There are lessons in waiting that are valuable for kids to learn before they become adults. Patience is the art of waiting and handling the times in between.
Teaching Delay as a Character Trait
Patience is a hard virtue to cultivate even as an adult. For kids, it can be near impossible without some parental intervention. Here is a cute book for kids on patience.
Here are some ways to help kids understand and benefit from it:
This can be learned in infancy. As a child gets older, there are times when they cry but are not hungry, wet or sick. We will be up numerous times per night at every little whine seeing if they are okay. While most of us aren’t comfortable letting our kids cry for hours, a bit of whimpering might result from suddenly waking up. There is nothing wrong with letting them learn to lull themselves back to sleep. Peek your head in to make sure they are not wrapped up in the blankets but don’t pick them up. I know you’ll feel bad but they need to learn and cope with waiting.
The same can be done for older kids. Turn on the night-light to illuminate their way to the bathroom but resist the urge to run to their aid for everything. We do this for the kids, they sleep with a night-light in their room and there is always a light on in the living room so they’re able to see.
* Change the focus:
Two siblings want the same toy but one was already playing with it. Instead of immediately shifting the toy to a new owner to squash the argument, allow the second child to wait their turn. While they wait, switch their attention to other activities to avoid brooding. I learned this the hard way. Now as soon as one puts down the toy, the other is right there to pick it up. We went through so many different techniques, from having them wait their turn, to giving them a time limit, right now we are on as soon as one is done playing with it then the other can play with it.
* Model it for them:
You probably have difficulty waiting as well. Don’t hide that from your kids. Let them know that even though you wish some things didn’t take time, you understand there is a reason for waiting. I hate waiting in line or waiting for the 30 minute dinner to cook, but that is something that we just have to do. Switch your attention to other pursuits as well while practicing patience. Go watch t.v or play a game with your kids so that both of your minds are off of waiting.
It’s not easy for little ones to wait but learning this trait can benefit them later in life.
What is one thing you hate waiting for?