Patience and waiting are two important life skills that everyone should learn how to practice. However, it doesn’t always come easy – especially to a toddler. As parents, we often forget that patience is a virtue that is much easier to manage as an adult because we have more self-control. Toddlers, on the other hand, are largely controlled by their emotions and seek out instant gratification.
The good news is that when the concept of patience is learned early, it will not only benefit your child in teaching them delayed gratification, but it will also contribute towards better health, improved relationships, career success, and much more. Whether young or old, the benefits of patience can not be denied. Let’s discuss five strategies on how to teach a child patience.
Patience for children: Introducing Your Kid to the Concept of Patience
Teaching patience in kids will certainly make your lives as parents easier (e.g. think of any car trip that you take with your children), but that’s not what matters most here.
Nobody is born with good character – it has to be learned. Although you may believe that “patient children” only exist in fairy tales or fictional books, this isn’t the truth. Children need a little bit of guidance to learn to be patient. It is important to remember that children have a very different sense of time than we do as adults. Because of this, the concept of waiting is an alien concept to them.
In fact, our response to children being impatient is often completely wrong. Many children feel uncomfortable when they are told to wait and the only way they know how to express this feeling is by acting out. We may view this as naughty behavior but really it’s due to the fact that your child simply doesn’t know how to be patient yet.
Many childhood experts fear that increased screen time among children will diminish a child’s ability to be patient completely. After all, even adults find it hard to wait without distracting ourselves with our smartphones or tablets. For this very reason, it is critical that parents use every opportunity that they have to help their child gain a better understanding of patience.
5 Strategies Parents Can Use to Help Their Child Be More Patient
Below, we will take a look at five strategies that you can use when teaching your child about the concepts of patience and waiting. As you take this journey with your child, remember that it won’t happen overnight. The key to being patient is practice and consistency.
Let’s get started.
1. Start Small
Asking your child to wait 5 minutes before they can watch their favorite TV show will seem like a lifetime to them – and could end in disaster and tears. Instead, the best way to teach a child patience is by starting off small.
Begin by asking your child to stay calm for one minute while you prepare them a snack. Once they are able to do this comfortably, increase the waiting period by an extra 30 seconds and so on. As they get older, begin testing their ability to stay patient for longer periods of time before meeting their needs and desires.
Tip: Use tangible examples and visual tools to teach your child how to show patience. For example, the next time your child goes to interrupt you while you’re on a call, ask them to imagine a thought bubble filling up with all the words they want to say. Or, set a timer so that they can visually see how long they have to wait for their turn playing on your smartphone.
2. Avoid Instant Gratification
This step may be a difficult one but it will help your child build character in the long run. In the beginning, it may seem easier to give in to instant gratification to keep the peace but try to avoid it at all costs.
When a child requests that you get them a snack, tell them that you would love to but there’s a job that you need to finish first and they have to wait for ‘X’ amount of minutes. Making them wait a little longer before fulfilling their request will teach them how to practice self-control and patience. Once the time has passed, give them what they asked you for and praise them for waiting. This will show them that their request will be carried out as long as they stay calm.
Avoid Doing This: If your child begins to act out, do not fulfill their request until they calm down. When we do this it only teaches them that they will get what they want by being naughty.
3. Acknowledge It Can Be Difficult
Even adults can find it difficult to wait so go easy on your child if they are struggling at the beginning. Next time that your child starts to get frustrated or upset, get down on your child’s level and give them a hug.
Let them know that you acknowledge how difficult it can be to wait and that you’re proud of how well they are trying to learn this new life skill.
4. Practice Patience Through Games
If your toddler is still struggling with delayed gratification, using games is a great strategy that parents can use for teaching kids patience. Games that focus on taking turns are best for this purpose. Family-friendly board games such as Candy Land or Connect 4 are perfect to teach your child how to wait.
When playing, make sure to say things like: “It’s my turn right now so you have to wait but you’ll get to go after me” or “See how Alex is taking his turn now. Once he and your sister have moved their pieces, it is your turn.”
Your children will learn self-control and patience during a fun activity without even realizing that they are learning. Win-win for everyone!
5. Turn it Into a Positive Experience
Lastly, asking your child to wait should never be seen as a punishment or a negative experience. It is only natural that young children will ask frequently whether the timeframe you set is up. This is because they don’t have the ability to conceptualize time yet.
Staying calm and positive while you are reinforcing the importance of being patient will teach them that it is an experience that will result in happy and positive emotions.
How Vivvi Instills Patience As Part of Early Learning
As part of our early learning program, we not only help your children to develop those all-important early childhood milestones but vital life skills too. The concepts of patience, understanding, and compassion are a few of the core pillars that we base our teaching methods around.
With every activity that your child does in our early learning centers, we encourage them to stay calm while taking turns and to understand that waiting will always end in a positive way. After all, the best things come to those that wait (sorry, we couldn’t resist).
For more information on the Vivvi learning model or to hear more about our early childhood education services, contact our team today. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.