Building Your Kids’ Patience in a World of Uber Accessibility
Patience as a character trait has never been in shorter supply than it is today. We live in a world where we don’t just hope for instant gratification – we expect it. If you have a question, five seconds and a Siri query can answer it. If you need to order something, online services can have it to you the next day, or even the same day!
When you want to go somewhere, a tap of an app on a tiny screen can order up Uber and give you up-to-the-minute updates of where your driver is until they show up at your door. Today’s kids are growing up in this “Uber accessible” world, and they won’t know anything else.
This can make your job as a parent just that much harder – you have to teach your kids and teens patience in a world where patience is no longer required! How do you do it? Let’s look at what the experts say!
Patience Means Waiting
The old adage “patience is a virtue” doesn’t make a lot of sense in today’s culture. In fact, it often seems like today’s culture sees patience as a weakness, not a virtue.
But, patience is still a valuable skill in many life situations. It keeps us calm, kind and present. As the Huffington Post points out, in order to teach your child how to wait, you first have to make sure you have learned this important lesson yourself. Model waiting for things so your child can see this behavior in practice.
Staying calm and cheerful, being pleasant to the other drivers, the receptionist on the other end of the phone or the grocery store clerk all show your child that waiting is normal; everyone waits sometimes and it can be done with cheerfulness and grace.
Patience Means Good Things
“Good things come to those who wait” is a powerful message that still remains relevant in this modern era. Entrepreneurs, gaming and app developers, sports stars, rock bands and other modern icons all had to develop patience to earn success.
Parenting magazine suggests that one way to show your child the link between patience and good things is to partner together to do projects that require patience.
Puzzles, gardening, learning a new language, assembling model planes and solving National Geographic subscription boxes missions’ to save endangered species can each foster the idea that remaining patient can ultimately deliver wonderful results.
Patience Requires Trust
Your children’s first experience of patience will come from you. If you are not naturally a patient person or you work in a field where patience is not valued, you may find yourself learning how to be patient right along with your child!
Education online suggests that simple trust is at the root of patience. In other words, instead of trying to model patience, aim to model trustworthiness.
Here are two great parenting tools for this:
- Instead of just saying “not now” when your child asks for your help with something, give her a specific time when you will be able to help her. Then make yourself available at that time no matter what.
- Whenever your child demonstrates patience, PRAISE him or her. You want to be sure children recognizes this valuable behavior in themselves and know that it is desirable and praise-worthy.
Patience Looks Different at Every Age
As a parent, you are expected to have the mental and emotional skills to cope with waiting for what you want – sometimes for extended periods of time. You don’t expect your toddler or young child, or even your teen, to have the capacity to endure waiting at that same level.
But this doesn’t mean even a young toddler can’t start to develop his endurance! What is key here is that your own expectations for your children’s ability to wait patiently are reasonable for their age and stage of development.
Bright Horizons suggests different activities to help different-age children learn to wait successfully.
- Infants and toddlers: Practically speaking, for infants and young toddlers, an education in patience often looks like you, the parent, offering your child something else to do to pass the time, such as a game or puzzle.
- Elementary school age: To build patience for elementary school age children, play verbal games that require higher order thinking. For example, have your child read through a magazine to identify words he or she doesn’t understand, guess the definition via context, and then validate if their suspicion is correct. These games will teach your children that knowledge acquisition (or acquisition of most worthwhile things for that matter) is a process that takes time.
- Tweens and young teens: During this age, you can start to verbalize what impatience feels like, putting it into “I” language. “I am disappointed I have to wait for my scores,” or “I don’t like waiting but I know I can do it” are two examples of putting “waiting frustration” into words to diffuse emotional tension.
Transforming the Disney Princess Pley Box into a castle, palace and tower is a great craft to teach patience. The process requires first coloring the flat box and then assembling it into a structure that complements the specific princess scene. Seeing an image or structure come together over time makes teaching patience easy, even in the “Uber accessible” age!