Raising Patient Children

Jokes and familyWait in line. Wait your turn. Wait until you are called on. From a very young age, children are asked to exercise patience in group settings. How well they demonstrate patience among their peers depends largely on whether they’re asked to practice patience at home.

While some children (and adults!) are more patient by nature, patience is a virtue that can be taught in simple ways at home. Here are some ways how.

Teach delays. Instead of rushing to your child at his first peep—whether he’s crying out for your attention from his bedroom or the bathroom—know that, if his safety isn’t at risk, it’s okay to wait a little bit. You may even find that he learns life skills more quickly, from soothing himself to sleep to doing his business in the bathroom solo, by having him wait.

Implement a “no interruptions” rule. If you can’t remember the last time you finished a conversation with another adult, it’s probably time to implement this rule at home. It lets your child know that she is not the only person in the world who requires your attention, and that it’s just plain rude to interrupt mom or dad.

Perform activities that demonstrate patience. Children often learn intangible concepts like patience best through tangible examples. Some ideas: have your child plant seeds, water them, and see how long it takes them to grow. Or, if you’re anticipating a special day, let your child mark off the days of the month on a calendar in countdown fashion.

Recognize that a child’s patience has limits. It’s important to remember that, although we want our children to be able to practice patience, it’s not learned overnight; nor do children possess the same degree of patience that we as adults can exhibit.

Celebrate even small acts of patience. Maybe it’s the first time your child hasn’t interrupted you while you’re on the phone. Or perhaps he’s finally let his younger sibling have a turn at his favorite toy without grabbing it out of her hands. Whatever the act of patience, let your child know how proud you are of him. Positive reinforcement is the best way to grow a virtue.

Model the desired behavior. Whether you’re trying to get out the door in the morning or stuck in traffic with your child in the back seat, remember: you are serving as her role model of patience, or lack thereof.

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