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How to help your children practice the art of patience

Child disturbing mother

It happens often when you’re on the phone and at the same time, your child has something they are dying to tell you. You say, “Please wait.” But, all they hear is “Please keep talking,” and they continue to do so.
There are so many parents that dream of having more patient children whether it’s at the dinner table, the grocery store or at the park when playing with friends. Waiting patiently is an extremely important skill to learn as a child and children who grow up into patient adults have better mental and emotional health.

Practice makes progress

You can help your children develop patience by practicing and reinforcing the skill. Try to perform activities that demonstrate patience like waiting for their turn in a game or marking the calendar for a special occasion, even waiting in the car for a little moment before you jump out and get to the next activity. All of these opportunities will help them learn more about patience.

Celebrate small wins

When your child doesn’t interrupt you during your telephone conversations or when they wait for their turn in a game, be sure to acknowledge and encourage them. Be sure to celebrate their small wins to reinforce being patient in situations. You could say “I appreciate you giving me that extra time or I appreciate you waiting for your turn” to show your appreciation.

Be a good role model

The only way you can raise a calm and patient child is by demonstrating patience yourself. Even when it’s terribly challenging to do so, remember that your children are watching you and learning from you. This might mean deciding to ‘practice’ your calm breath when you are feeling angry, and sharing this out loud that this is what you are attempting to do, so your child understands and can copy this. And, most importantly be patient with your own children which will help them learn how to be patient with others.

Get a timer

Children often don’t understand the concept of time so it could be a good idea to display a visual timer. You can show the timer to your child when doing a task or waiting for something so it will them understand the concept of time. Be sure to show a timer that doesn’t just count down as children find this hard to follow. A great tool for this is something called Time Timer. Time Timer is one of the most popular visual timers available on the market. With an uncluttered interface, silent operation and optional audible alert this timer works great in almost any setting. http://www.timetimer.com/store/category/1/timers is fantastic.

Engage in slow paced activities

To help your children cultivate patience, try to engage in slow paced activities with them such as games, art work or reading. Whatever the activity is, make sure it makes the children wait. Don’t make the waiting times too long that they are unbearable and they are able to wait until the very end.

Make it a rule

Children don’t understand gray areas, so it is important to be concrete about when and how to be patient. Let them know they need to find an activity when you’re on the phone or they have to wait until a certain time for the next snack.

Do a role-play

Doing a role-play of a character who shows patience is another great way to teach young children how to be patient. When they take on the persona and characteristics of another character, they feel as competent as the role they are playing. They can pretend to be their favorite character when doing a difficult task and their own challenge will be to be patient through it.