Are you a patient person?
Can you occupy yourself while waiting or do you get fidgety and try to rush things?
Can you wait to reveal a surprise or give a gift or do you prefer to do it right away?
I am learning to have better patience because things are better when they happen all in good time.
When I worked with a kindergarten class for the book Impatient Iguana the kids all decided that it is hardest to wait for an upcoming birthday party. They shared ideas on how they show their impatience with waiting for the special day but also with ideas that might help make the time 'go faster'.
The key in this book is that the iguana's mother offered him a tool he could use to help him deal with his impatience. When we give someone the tools to work through something themselves we give them a great power.
Pick up the book from the Quite a Character Bookstore!
Patience takes practice
It is important that we inspire children to try things themselves and do things for themselves. Of course we know that it takes time for them to learn and it isn't always convenient to honour their independence.
But let's think about when supper isn't ready fast enough for a hungry child, and we say "have patience it will be ready soon." We are teaching them that some things can't be done immediately and will often require us to wait.
What about when a child has asked us to play and we say "in a minute I am just on the phone." We are expecting them to practice patience so they know that our time must be divided up among our responsibilities.
Now imagine you have somewhere to go and your child is just learning to tie a shoe. Who needs to practice patience now? Rushing that child may cause them to make mistakes and feel defeated. Doing it for that child to quicken the pace will not help them learn. One of the best ways to teach a child how to be patient is to be patient yourself and practice it daily.
When children, especially toddlers, do something that makes you lose your patience take a step back and see what they are really trying to do. Are they exploring, learning, practicing? As we ask patience of our children, so should we offer it to them.
The Positive Parenting Framework author Lindsay Ford, offers:
Validate feelings, empathize: "You really want to go to the park right now." "It's so hard to wait."
use "I wish" statements: "I wish we could go to the park right now too."
Go there in imagination: "We always have so much fun at the park don't we? If we could go to the park right now, what's the first thing you would do?"
Don't rescue: don't try to immediately go to the park (or buy them a toy) or try to talk them out of their feelings. It's OK that they're upset. They're capable of surviving disappointment.
Brainstorm ideas of what they could do instead: "Why don't we go play with your cars?"
Be sure to pick up the book on Amazon!
Children aren't naturally patient. It is something that needs to be developed within them as they grow. (and we know even as an adult we can lose patience). But being prepared with tools and activities that can help them learn patience can make any waiting situation more enjoyable for all concerned.
When going to a restaurant, doctor's office or anywhere there is a waiting time be sure to have some quiet activities for the children to do to help them pass the time.
When preparing for an upcoming special day have some kind of visible countdown for them to see how much longer it will be.
If you are taking a long trip schedule in some fun stops and let them know when those stops will be - give them a clock, timer or location on a map so they can see for themselves if they are there yet.
Most importantly be aware that time registers differently for kids. Smaller kids don't know the difference between five minutes and an hour and to many kids hours can seem to really drag on. Giving them times in a way they can understand (two nights sleep, 2 episodes of your favourite show, when this hand gets to here) will help them recognize time lengths and be able to better practice patience.
“Patience is the calm acceptance that things can happen in a different order than the one you have in your mind.”
David G. Allen
Lack of patience can lead to some whiny situations. Check out the blog post Have Some Cheese with that Whine to learn some tips for dealing with whining.