Patience is a virtue, or at least that’s what you hear. Too bad your little one doesn’t understand that sentiment. Teaching children patience can be a daunting task. The younger they are, the more demanding they can be. More than likely, they don’t even understand the concept of patience, much less how to act accordingly.
Your little one will need guidance and a little patience from you as well. There are three important keys to teaching patience: starting as early as possible, being consistent, and positive reinforcement.
Starting at an early age is best, although starting late is certainly better than never. The earlier you start with small lessons, the easier it will be for your little one to catch on. Start with simple things such as delaying gratification for a few minutes when your child asks for something. She needs to understand that if you are busy, she may not get what she wants right away and she will need to wait.
For example, if your child asks you for some milk or juice, calmly tell her that you will get her some as soon as you have finished your current task. Make sure to follow through on your promises, and do not proceed to work on another task before fulfilling your end of the bargain. When you ask your child to wait for something, try setting an egg timer to sing when the time is up, or tell your child where the hands or the numbers will be on the clock to help.
For the concept of patience to truly sink in, you need to make sure that you are being consistent in your practices. For example, if you tell your child that he can play with blocks after lunch, do not then go back on that promise by making him take a nap first. Also, don’t mix things up by sometimes making your child be patient, but other times giving in to his demands. This will only confuse him instead of teaching him that if he is patient, he will eventually get what he wants.
Reward your child when she gets it right, but try not to react negatively when she doesn’t. You want to make the learning process easy and understandable for your child.
For example, if you are talking on the phone and your child is trying to get your attention because she wants you to read to her, calmly explain to her that you are talking on the phone and cannot read a book with her right this moment.
Refrain from yelling or telling her to be quiet, but instead explain the situation to her and make her understand that now is not the right time. Then, once she has waited patiently for you to complete your phone call, reward her by taking the time to read the book with her. Children that learn patience often get along much better in life.
They make friends easier and at an early age because they learn how to share and take turns. These lessons also follow them into their adult lives. Patience is a virtue that can be taught to any child. If you start now, stay consistent with your teachings, and reinforce positively, your child will easily learn to be better mannered, less demanding and more patient.