We live in an age of immediate gratification. Our children's generation has been taught to think that everything they want or need should be quickly delivered to them, no waiting required. Recent parenting/teaching trends call for adults to act quickly in fulfilling a child's requests- giving the distinct impression that waiting is nothing but pure torture and unfair to children. However, I fear that raising a whole bunch of children who can't wait is not actually the best plan we ever had. If you'd like to grow your children's/student's Powers of Patience, try the following:
When they ask for something, offer to get it in 5 minutes (and keep a timer!)-
We aren't doing our children any favors when we drop everything to hand them what they need on a silver platter. One way to teach waiting is to offer to help children in 5 minutes. This can serve several purposes- not just patience! Often, they'll find a solution themselves while they wait (hooray!), and at the very least, they'll get experience that waiting 5 minutes isn't as hard as it seems. It's important, however, that you don't forget or lose track of time while they are waiting!
Count down for an event they're looking forward to-
One way to teach long-term patience is to teach your children about anticipation. Make a paper chain or countdown calendar to help young children understand the concept of longer periods of time- like days until Christmas or birthdays.
Encourage them to save up to buy something-
When kids save up money (or classroom "bucks") to get something they really want, they learn a life lesson that many adults have to learn the hard way- it's better to wait and save than get impatient and either blow money you need for other things, or rack up interest buying things you can't yet afford.
Kids and adults should wait until everyone is served before eating-
Yes, it's often easier for the adults when the kids are served and begin to eat and then the adults follow up and eat after. This is necessary when children have to be spoon fed, but when they are feeding themselves, it is a good thing for children to learn that they are not the only ones who need to eat. Waiting for others is not just great manners, but a great lesson in patience, and thinking of others!
Teach your littles coping skills for waiting for long periods of time-
When you know you'll be waiting a long period of time (like in a doctor's office or when when they wake up early from nap), encourage the children in your care to pick something they can do while they wait. Teach them to find something that is quiet and considerate of others. Another good plan is to teach them little games (20 questions, I spy, the alphabet game) that can be played with no materials for times when unexpected delays arise.
When you notice your children are being especially patient, compliment them! When we give our children/students a high five for patience, they can recognize the beauty of waiting well... and that's fantastic!
I love to teach workshops for teachers, volunteers, and parents, sharing tips and tools for caring for children with the big picture in mind. Click here for booking information