Be Patient: 4 Easy Ways to Teach Patience

There’s a reason this saying is so popular:

“Patience is a virtue.”

Because it really is! And it’s likely one of the toughest ones to master, as both children and adults.

The truth is that one of the most effective ways to teach kids patience is by demonstrating patience ourselves, in our day-to-day lives. This means maintaining a patient stance while waiting, whether it’s in a never-ending Target line and remaining calm (so no fidgeting and no complaining -- on our part!), or while waiting for them to tie their laces during those frantic, harried weekday mornings.

Teaching patience is an important way to ensure kids know how to take turns -- a key element in fair playtime, during playdates, at school and at the park.

Here are 4 (easy) ways to practice patience and teach it to your kids.

1- Make it a game:
Whether you’re late for an appointment and need your kids to get ready quicker or simply need them to get out the door for school, try using humor and games to keep the kids moving along in their tasks. So no nagging, whining or complaining (from you!). Instead turn “who can be ready first?” into a game or try making a song out of it.

This is also a great coping tool for when you’re waiting in a long line at a store, in a doctor’s waiting room, or are stuck in traffic. Games like “I spy” and activities like counting shapes can also help the time pass by.

2 - Use timers:
You know those times when you’re busy cleaning up after dinner or just need to send one more work-related email, and the kids are begging for you to help them with a toy or play with them? Next time this happens, rather than saying “Just one more minute” -- five times -- tell your child that you are setting a timer for 2 or 5 minutes. And when they hear the timer go off, you will be ready!

Tip: Use an hourglass sand timer to help your kids visualize the time passing.

You need to follow through on your promise to make this an effective learning tactic though!

3- Praise them when they’re patient:
When they do demonstrate patience, praise them -- it’s important to reinforce this positive behavior, it will help for future occasions!

4- Give them chances to practice patience:
It won’t happen overnight: you’ll need to be patient with the progress too! But giving your kids the opportunity to practice being patient will help them learn it in the long run. So this means not running to them every time they ask you for something -- in this digital, on-demand world where they can practically watch anything, any time, it’s important that they don’t get used to instant gratification.

So be patient -- and be good! 

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